Voting is underway in the first phase of elections in Manipur where 38 constituencies are polling while the sixth phase of Uttar Pradesh elections, spread across Mau, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh and Ballia, has also started.
Polling in 49 Uttar Pradesh assembly seats in the sixth phase, with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's Azamgarh being in focus, started today amidst tight security arrangements.
Assembly segments of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency of firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, and Mau, where jailed gangster-turned-MLA Mukhtar Ansari is in fray, also figure in this penultimate phase of polling that will also cover some districts bordering Nepal.
Around 1.72 crore voters, including 94.60 lakh men and 77.84 lakh women, are eligible to cast their votes in this round to decide the fate of 635 candidates including 63 women.
The districts where polling is going on in the sixth phase are Mau, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh and Ballia.
Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency has 10 assembly seats, of which SP had won nine in 2012, but this time Mulayam has not addressed a single meeting in his parliamentary constituency.
The prestige of Union minister Kalraj Mishra, who represents Deoria in the Lok Sabha, too is at stake, besides that of Adityanath.
The BJP is contesting 45 seats and its ally Apna Dal one.
Another BJP partner Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party is contesting 3 seats. While BSP has fielded candidates on all 49 seats, SP is contesting 40 seats and Congress 9 seats under an alliance.
Prominent candidates in this phase include BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya from Padrauna (Kushinagar), former BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi from Pathardeva (Deoria), Shyam Bahadur Yadav (SP), son of former Governor Ram Naresh Yadav from Fulpur Pawai (Azamgarh), SP turncoats Ambika Chowhdury and Narad Rai, who are contesting on BSP ticket from Fefna (Ballia) and Ballia Sadar.
Mukhtar is contesting from Mau and his son Abbas is in fray from adjoining Ghosi seat in Mau district.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, of the 49 seats, 27 were won by the SP, 9 by BSP, 7 by BJP, 4 by Congress and 2 by others.
There will be 17,926 polling booths and 10,820 polling centres in this phase.
The highest number of 23 candidates are contesting from Gorakhpur and the least candidates, numbering seven are in pitted for Mohammadabad Gohna seat in Mau district.
Central Para Military Forces have already reached the constituencies and carried out flag march in sensitive areas.
Indo-Nepal border with Maharajganj and Gorakhpur, and border with Bihar have been sealed.
Police patrolling has been intensified along inter district borders and barriers have been erected on highways to keep an eye on movements of vehicles.
Maoists and the porous Indo-Nepal border are the two biggest challenges before the police in Maharajganj.
The 84 km-long Indo-Nepal border has been sealed by Sashastra Seema Bal and only emergency vehicles will be allowed to cross the border, District Electoral Officer Virendra Kumar Singh said.
Cameras have been installed on trade and transit points along India's border with Nepal to prevent illegal movement of people during polling.
He said two such cameras have already been set up at Sonauli Indo-Nepal Border of Maharajganj district on India-Nepal border.
The polling percentage on these 49 seats in sixth phase was 55.04 in 2012 assembly polls.
Voting for the first phase of polling in Manipur covering 38 constituencies began amidst tight security.
An electorate of 19,02,562 comprising 9,28,573 male and 9,73,989 female voters will decide the fate of 168 candidates. The number of new voters is 45,642.
Of the total 1,643 polling station where polling is being held, the EC has identified 837 polling stations as hyper sensitive and 529 as sensitive.
For maintaining peaceful polling 280 companies of central paramilitary forces and armed police of other states have been deployed.
Out of these 30 companies are being kept for looking after the two national highways connecting Imphal and other states in view of the four-month-old indefinite economic blockade by United Naga Council.
The rest of the security forces will be deployed in the polling stations, the EC said adding that Manipur Police will not be be deployed in them.
In the first phase prominent political figures of the state like Speaker Th Lokeswar Singh, ministers I Hemochandra Singh, Govindas Konthoujam, Kh Ratankumar Singh and T Manga Vaiphei, Manipur PCC President T N Haokip, former ministers Phungzathang Tonsing, and Y Erabot Singh and BJP leader Th Chaoba Singh are in the election fray, the EC said.