Polling begins for final phase of UP municipal polls

Polling has begun for the second and the final phase of municipal polls in Uttar Pradesh, where over 1.92 crore voters will decide the fate of 39, 146 poll aspirants in 38 districts.

The counting of votes for both phases is scheduled for Saturday.

Seven municipal corporations (nagar nigams)- Meerut, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Aligarh, Kanpur Nagar and Ayodhya – will be electing their mayors on Thursday.

Shahjahanpur will vote for the first time as a nagar nigam.

Polling is being held for 7, 006 posts in 370 urban local bodies (ULBs), which include seven nagar nigams, 95 nagar palika parishads and 268 nagar panchayats.

State Election Commissioner (SEC) Manoj Kumar said, “All arrangements are in place for peaceful and fair voting in the second phase for which a total of 19, 618 booths under 6, 378 polling centres have been readied.”

Four out of the seven mayor seats that are heading for polls on Thursday were won by the BJP in the last civic elections in 2017. They are Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Kanpur Nagar and Ayodhya.

While the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won the Aligarh and Meerut seats, the SP drew a blank.

Shahjahanpur, the hometown and assembly constituency of state Finance Minister Suresh Khanna, was upgraded into a municipal corporation in 2018.

While the BJP is faced with the challenge to at least maintain its 2017 tally, the SP is focusing to regain some lost ground in alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a party that has good influence in several districts of western Uttar Pradesh.

In the ongoing civic polls, the BJP has fielded 10, 758 candidates (4, 248 are women), the highest among all parties.

The SP has fielded the second highest number of candidates – 5, 231 (of whom 2, 223 are women); followed by BSP with 3, 787 (1, 611 women) contestants.

The Congress and the AAP have fielded 2, 994 (1, 395 women) and 2, 447 (1, 031 women) contestants, respectively.

Over 66 per cent of the total candidates in both phases of the polls are independents.