Campaigning ends for Ballia LS bypoll

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Ballia, Dec 27 (UNI) The high profile campaigning for the December 29 Ballia Lok Sabha bypoll, where the Samajwadi Party candidate -- son of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar -- was pitted against the son of mafia don-turned-politician Hari Shankar Tiwari, ended at 1700 hrs this evening.

Ballia Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh, which has long stood witness to 'personality versus development' showdown over the past decades, is witnessing election following the death of former Prime Minister and sitting MP Chandra Shekhar.

The so called 'social engineering' of the ruling BSP is also on test at the hustings.

While the entire Opposition, except for the Congress, the BJP and the BSP, is supporting SP candidate Neeraj Shekhar, the youngest son of the former PM in the byelection, BSP's Vinay Shanker Tiwari along with the BJP and the Congress candidates had turned this bypoll as a run up to the Lok Sabha election in the state.

A total of over 1.5 million electorate would exercise their franchise at 716 polling stations and seal the fate of 16 candidates in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The polling would start at 0700 hrs and end at 1700 hrs on Saturday. The counting of votes would take place on January 2.

About 249 and 221 polling centres have been declared as hyper-sensitive and sensitive respectively, in the constituency.

The Election Commission has banned the entry of outsiders, including ministers, in the constituency from today till the voting process is over on Saturday.

Police Superintendent L B Antony Kumar said about 55 companies of Central Reserve Police (CRP), Border Security Force (BSF), Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) would be deployed for security. Besides, about 3,000 state police personnel would be deployed in the constituency on election duty.

While, para military would be deployed at hyper sensitive and sensitive polling centres, PAC would be deployed at other centres, Mr Kumar said.

Motorboats manned by policemen would be pressed into service in Ghagra and Ganga rivers to keep a vigil along the UP-Bihar border in the district.

A look into the past three decades of election politics would indicate that the successive polls were fought amidst the twin axis of development and personality of the Young Turk. However, the picture is somewhat different this time round.

While Neeraj Shekhar is banking on his illustrious father's personality and the sympathy wave to romp home, the opposition parties had made the development of Ballia an agenda for the byelection.

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