Assembly election: UP Phase 2 and Uttarakhand campaigning ends on Monday

Dalits and Muslims hold the key to the seats in Haridwar, where, of the 13 lakh voters, about 4 lakh are Muslims and 2.5 lakh are Dalits.

They say that the SP-Congress alliance has been able to corner a lion's share of the minority votes wherever their candidates were in a direct contest.

Brisk voting in the nine assembly constituencies of Agra district was reported by election commission office.

Polling for 67 Assembly seats in 11 districts in the Rohilkhand region of the state would be held on Wednesday. Mr Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have campaigned hard to win the state, which is important politically because it sends 80 MPs to the Lower House of Parliament, the largest number of any state.

The UP assembly election results may still be quite far, but BJP has something to cheer, as it has won 3 MLC seats in Uttar Pradesh.

The Samajwadi Party is led by 43-year-old Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

During these elections, he managed to wrest control of the party from his father and uncle, and has positioned himself as a pro-development politician who can now run the government without family interference.

UP is witnessing three-cornered elections with BJP, BSP and SP-Congress in the fray. Mayawati also attacked the Congress calling it a party which faced rout in many states because of corruption and added that BJP is following the Congress by coming up with demonetisation scheme.

Since the late 1990s, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have dominated state politics, with the Congress and the BJP pushed to the sidelines.

Interestingly, political bigwigs, including SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were conspicuous by their absence from the campaign trail in the first two phases of polling. Jats account for some 17% of the electorate, and it's in this phase that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) - which has traditionally relied largely on the Jat vote bank - has its best shot at reclaiming lost ground.

The BJP, which had earlier declared the SP as its main rival, changed tack to announce the BSP as the "main force" in Uttar Pradesh. "Muslims are going to play a major role", said Dr Aftab Alam, an associate professor of political science at Aligarh Muslim University.

Since the birth of India, 8 of its 14 prime ministers has come from the state.

  • Zachary Reyes