Assembly Polls: Voting on Monday in Goa, Uttarakhand, 55 seats in UP in the second phasetext_fields
Panaji/Dehradun/Lucknow: Voting will be held on Monday in all assembly seats in Goa and Uttarakhand, besides 55 constituencies Uttar Pradesh in the second phase of the state polls, with chief ministers Pramod Sawant and Pushkar Singh Dhami, former CM Harish Rawat and jailed Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan among the prominent leaders in the fray.
It is a high-stakes election for the ruling BJP and a litmus test for the Modi government's policies that the Congress, AAP and other opposition parties have targeted during their campaign.
The coastal state of Goa, with over 11 lakh voters, has 301 candidates contesting from 40 Assembly seats, while in Uttarakhand, which has an electorate of 81 lakh, 632 candidates, including 152 independents, are in the fray from 70 seats.
Traditionally the two states have seen bipolar politics, but they are witnessing a multi-cornered contest this time with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) throwing its hat in the ring. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other smaller parties are also vying to make a mark on Goa's electoral scene.
Voting will begin at 8 AM and conclude at 6 PM in Uttarakhand where there will be 11,697 polling booths. It will be the fifth assembly election to be held in the hill state after its creation in 2000.
Seeking a second consecutive term for the BJP, its stalwarts have warned voters against the Congress' "policy of appeasement" and asked for votes highlighting the road, rail and air connectivity projects underway in the state and the ones in the pipeline besides the reconstruction of Kedarnath over the past five years.
They have sought votes in the name of a double-engine government for the state's uninterrupted development over the next five years while Congress, which is trying to gain lost ground after its rout in 2017 assembly polls, has raised the issues of inflation, unemployment and change of chief ministers in quick succession.
The BJP had won 57 out of a total of 70 seats in Uttarakhand in the last assembly polls limiting Congress to just 11. Two seats had gone to Independents.
The AAP, which is contesting all 70 assembly constituencies, has offered a slew of freebies including free electricity up to 300 units to every household, Rs 1,000 per month to every woman above 18 years, jobs to every household and an unemployment allowance of Rs 5,000 per month to them until they get the job to lure voters.
In Goa, The Congress and the Goa Forward Party (GFP) are fighting the election in alliance, while the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC has joined hands with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to contest the polls.
The Shiv Sena and the NCP had also announced their pre-poll alliance, while the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is contesting on its own.
The Revolutionary Goans, Goencho Swabhimaan Party, Jai Mahabharat Party and Sambhaji Brigade are also in the poll fray, besides 68 independent candidates The counting of votes will take place on March 10.
In the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, as many as 586 candidates are in the fray from 55 seats in this phase spread across Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur.
Campaigning was affected by COVID-19 restrictions which were gradually relaxed by the Election Commission in the last couple of weeks.
Election officials said all arrangements have been made to conduct polling which will be held from 7 AM to 6 PM.
Of the 55 seats going to polls in this phase, the BJP had won 38 in 2017, while the Samajwadi Party had bagged 15 and the Congress two. The SP and the Congress had contested the last Assembly election in an alliance.
The areas going to the polls in this phase have a sizeable Muslim population influenced by religious leaders of the Barelvi and Deoband sects and are considered to be the strongholds of the Samajwadi Party.
The first round of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh polls was held on February 10.
The results will be declared on March 10