Voting for the sixth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls began on Thursday morning, with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several prominent faces among 676 candidates, who are contesting on 57 seats spread across 10 districts.
The voting started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. Around 2.15 crore people are eligible to vote in this phase.
Till now, voting for 292 of the 403 Assembly seats has been completed. The final phase of the elections on the remaining 54 seats will be held on March 7.
The districts where polling is being held on Thursday are Ambedkar Nagar, Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia.
Among the 676 candidates in the fray in this phase are CM Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban and state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu from Tamkuhi Raj seat.
Swami Prasad Maurya, who was a minister in the Adityanath government and had quit the BJP to join the Samajwadi Party, is contesting from Fazilnagar.
The Samajwadi Party has pitted the wife of the late Upendra Dutt Shukla, a former BJP leader, against Adityanath.
Azad Samaj Party founder Chandrashekhar Azad is also contesting against the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister from Gorakhpur Urban.
The Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Govind Chaudhary is contesting from Bansdih.
Many incumbent ministers’ fate will also be decided in this phase.
They include Surya Pratap Shahi from Pathardeva, Satish Chandra Dwivedi from Itwa, Jai Pratap Singh from Bansi, Shree Ram Chauhan from Khajani and Jai Prakash Nishad from Rudrapur.
Political rivals trade blows
The campaigning for this phase witnessed the political parties going for an all-out attack against each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the BJP's rivals by tagging them as dynasts, who he claimed can never make India capable or empower Uttar Pradesh. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi rebutted by saying that the BJP is only against her family, which did not bow down before it.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy of ending reservation and "selling" government entities to the private sector.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 46 of the 57 seats.