UP civic poll: High-octane electioneering closes in Ayodhya

Yogi Adityanath
Ayodhya, the virtual fulcrum of the Uttar Pradesh civil polls, is set to witness the end of high-octane electioneering Monday evening before the temple town votes on Wednesday to elect its first mayor.

A total of 24 Uttar Pradesh (UP) districts spanning 18 divisions are going to polls in the first phase on November 22. The newly-created Ayodhya municipality is part of the Faizabad district. The home district of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would also witness polling on the same day.

On November 14, Adityanath had kicked off his election campaign for the state urban local bodies polls from Ayodhya to subtly underline its importance.

Last month, he had led a battery of his cabinet colleagues to participate in a mega cultural programme in Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali with several foreign troupes also showcasing Ramlila on the banks of Saryu.

Besides, the Yogi government has already proposed a massive 100-metre Ram statue worth nearly Rs 200 crore in Ayodhya, which is regarded as the birthplace of Lord Ram according to popular Hindu mythology.

After his first port of call at Ayodhya, Yogi has been crisscrossing the state addressing election meetings in various districts.

The districts going to polls in first phase on November 22 include Shamli, Meerut, Hapur, Bijnor, Badaun, Hathras, Kasganj, Agra, Kanpur Nagar, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot, Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Unnao, Hardoi, Amethi, Faizabad, Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Sonebhadra.

Bhartiya Janata Party has been at the forefront of the UP civic polls, while all the other major political parties, including Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress have maintained a low key in electioneering. While SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati have kept aloof, it is for the first time that their parties are fighting the poll under their party symbol.

In May 2017, the Yogi government had created two new civic bodies in UP — Ayodhya-Faizabad and Mathura-Vrindavan municipal corporations — taking the total number of such entities in the state to 16.

The polling in remaining two phases would occur on November 26 and 29, while the counting of votes for all the three phases would take place on December 1 and results are expected the same day.

An estimated 33.2 million voters are eligible to cast votes for 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 438 nagar panchayats, which total 652 urban local bodies in UP.

The 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 438 nagar panchayats comprise 1,300, 5,261 and 5,434 wards respectively. A total of 11,389 polling centres and 36269 polling booths would be set up for the three-phase polls.

Although BJP has traditionally been strong in the urban constituencies, Yogi is facing the acid test of not only ensuring the victory of party candidates, but also improving the poll performance.

BJP, which is the ruling party, won for the first in 15 years in the state.

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