Lucknow : Polling began at a slow pace as only average 8.56 per cent votes out of 35.45 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling in Azamgarh and Rampur where by-polls are being held for two Lok Sabha seats.
According to the Chief Electoral Office (CEO) office during polling which started at 7 am while 9.21 per cent votes were polled in Azamgarh, 7.86 per cent voter turnout was registered in Rampur till 9 am.
As per the data of the CEO office more than 18.38 lakh eligible voters will decide the electoral fate of 13 candidates, including a woman, in Azamgarh, whereas more than 17.06 lakh voters, eligible to vote will decide the electoral fate of 6 candidates in Rampur.
As per the information received from the Election Commission polling is being held at 4,234 polling booths and 2,272 polling centers in both the places. To keep an eye on the polling two general observers and two expenditure observers have been deployed.
In addition to this 291 sector magistrates, 40 zonal magistrates, 10 static magistrates and 433 micro observers have been deployed on poll duty. To ensure free and fair polling central forces have been deployed along with the local police.
The by-poll has become an issue of prestige for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition party Samajwadi Party (SP). In the 2019 general elections both the seats were won by SP.
While SP chief Akhilesh won from Azamgarh, senior party leader Mohammad Azam Khan was elected from Rampur. Akhilesh and Azam vacated these seats after getting elected to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from Karhal in Mainpuri and Rampur Sadar seats respectively.
BJP has repeated its candidate on Azamgarh seat and has fielded Bhojpuri movie actor Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua. In 2019 he was defeated by Akhilesh. On the other hand SP has fielded Akhilesh’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav, who will be contesting from this seat for the first time.
Entry of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali has made the contest triangular.
In Rampur there is a straight contest between BJP and SP. Here BJP nominee Ghanshyam Lodhi is challenging Aseem Raza of SP. This seat is a matter of prestige for Azam as Aseem is considered to be his close lieutenant.