Fifty-five constituencies spread across nine districts of Uttar Pradesh are going to polls today, amid an increasingly shrill, polarised campaign. Voting will also be held in two other BJP-ruled states, Goa and Uttarakhand, beginning at 7 am.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
In Uttar Pradesh, special focus would be on eight sensitive constituencies across Bijnor, Sambhal and Saharanpur districts. The areas — considered strongholds of the Samajwadi Party — have a sizeable Muslim population.
Goa and Uttarakhand will see a single-phase voting. Forty seats of Goa and 70 seats of hill state are going to polls.
Of the 55 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had won 38 in 2017, the Samajwadi Party won 15 and the Congress won 2.
The prominent faces contesting in this phase include senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, Dharam Singh Saini, the BJP minister who switched to Samajwadi Party, and the state’s Finance Minister Suresh Khanna.
Azam Khan has been fielded from his stronghold Rampur and is contesting the polls from behind the bars. His son Abdullah Azam is contesting from Suar seat against Haider Ali Khan. Haider Ali Khan, a member of the erstwhile royal family of Rampur, is the grandson of former MP Noor Bano, who is trying his luck on the ticket of Apna Dal (Sonelal), a BJP ally. He is the only Muslim candidate announced by the BJP-led alliance in UP so far.
In Uttarakhand, the key candidates include Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and his cabinet colleagues Satpal Maharaj, Subodh Uniyal, Arvind Pandey and Dhan Singh Rawat. Prominent faces from the Congress include former chief minister Harish Rawat and state Congress chief Ganesh Godiyal. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aaam Aadmi Party is also contesting in Uttarakhand.
Though a small seaside state with only 40 seats, the contest in Goa has drawn the maximum eyeballs after UP, with the surprise outcome in 2017, when the Congress won the maximum number of seats, but the BJP formed the government. This time, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress are also in fray, with hopes to expand their footprint beyond Delhi and Bengal.
The big fight will be in Panaji, where Utpal Parrikar, a BJP rebel and the son of late Manohar Parrikar, contests as an Independent against Atanasio Monserrate of the BJP. The Congress has fielded Elvis Gomes, a former bureaucrat and AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in 2017. AAP has fielded Valmiki Naik for the third time.
The Trinamool Congress has been aggressively recruiting in Goa — its expansion coming mostly at the cost of the Congress. The election, however, comes amid a growing rift with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee and the old guard. Caught in the middle is election strategist Prashant Kishor’s IPAC, which is formulating the campaign in Goa.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which drew a blank in the 2017 elections in Goa, claims they are well prepared this time. Given the history of rapid defects in the state, all 40 AAP candidates have signed a loyalty affidavit, which can be legally enforceable by any voter.