Lucknow, Feb 11: Voting in the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections have begun. All eyes would be on the elections being held in Western UP which would set the tone for the rest of the elections.
There are an estimated 2.6 crore people in Western Uttar Pradesh who will cast their first vote on Saturday. The first phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017 may just decide the fate of the state with polling to take place in 73 constituencies.
There is elaborate security in place since there are several sensitive areas that go to poll on Saturday. The Election Commission of India said that 6,000 paramilitary personnel are deployed across the 887 polling booths in Muzzafarnagar and Shamli areas which had witnessed riots in 2013.
While the ghost of the riots still continue to linger on, there have also been complaints of mass exodus in Kairana. The ECI said that those had migrated from Kairana will be extended security if they will take part in the polling process.
The polling in the first phase is very crucial as it would set the tone for the rest of the elections. UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav said at a rally in Muzzafarnagar that they are the first voters and they would set the tone for the elections. Pollsters say that winning big in Western UP is a must. It sets the mood for the rest of the elections, pollsters also say. In the 2014 elections, the BJP won all the Lok Sabha seats in Western UP. In the 2012 assembly elections the SP and BSP won 24 seats each. The BJP and the RLD won 11 and 5 respectively.
In this first phase all eyes would be on Muzzafarnagar and Shamili. It may be recalled that on September 7 2013, at least 65 persons were killed in riots. The SP and the BJP did not make this an issue during the campaign this time. However the BSP did flog this issue to suggest that under Mayawati the law and order was superior. The BJP however raised the issue that rocked Kairana recently. The leaders spoke in detail about the mass exodus of Hindus from the area.