Representational Image. Photo: PTI
New Delhi: All 117 Assembly seats in Punjab and 59 in Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls on Sunday, with the two states witnessing multi-cornered contests.
Punjab is currently ruled by the Congress and the BJP is in power in Uttar Pradesh.
In Uttar Pradesh, elections are being held in seven phases, the third of which will be held on Sunday.
Polling in Punjab will be held from 8 am to 6 pm. In Uttar Pradesh, the polling will take place between 7 am and 6 pm, according to the election authorities. The counting will take place on March 10.
Campaigning for the Sunday polls had ended on Friday, with senior leaders of the parties making a final effort to woo voters.
In Punjab, over 2.14 crore voters will decide the fate of 1,304 candidates, including 93 women.
Punjab is witnessing a multi-cornered contest among the Congress, AAP, SAD-BSP, BJP-PLC-SAD (Sanyukt) and the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political front of various farmer bodies.
The ruling Congress has come under severe attack from its political opponents over various issues, including the drug menace and corruption.
The Congress is banking on decisions like reduction in electricity tariff and fuel prices. The decisions were taken during current CM Charanjit Singh Channi's 111-day tenure.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has emerged as a major contender, is eyeing to wrest power while projecting the Delhi model of governance.
The stakes are also high for the Shiromani Akali Dal, which is contesting the polls in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after breaking ties with the BJP in 2020 over the farm laws issue.
The BJP, which used to be a junior partner during its previous alliance with the SAD, is fighting the elections as a major partner.
Entering into an alliance with Amarinder Singh-led Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led SAD (Sanyukt), the saffron party has asked voters to go for a "double-engine government" for "Nawan" (new) Punjab.
The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, comprising various Punjab farmer bodies, which had taken part in the stir against the Centre's now repealed farm laws, is contesting the polls in alliance with Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni-led Sanyukt Sangharsh Party.
Prominent faces who are in the fray are Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial face Bhagwant Mann, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, former CMs Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal, and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma and former Union minister Vijay Sampla are also fighting the elections.
All major political parties have promised a host of freebies to woo voters.
While AAP has promised Rs 1,000 for all women, the Congress has also promised Rs 1,100 per month for needy women.
The SAD-BSP alliance has promised Rs 2,000 per month to all women heads of blue card holder families (BPL beneficiaries).
The Congress and the SAD-BSP alliance have promised one lakh government jobs.
The SAD-BSP promised 75 per cent reservation for the state youth in public and private sectors. The BJP-led alliance has made a similar promise, but for the government sector only.
AAP has promised up to 300 units of free power while the SAD-BSP promised 400 units of free electricity.
The high-pitched campaigning had seen the participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union minister Smriti Irani, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal.
Modi, who held three rallies at Jalandhar, Pathankot and Abohar, covering Punjab's Doaba, Majha and Malwa regions, had accused the Congress and AAP of pretending to fight against each
Rahul Gandhi had cautioned people against going for any "experiment" in the Punjab polls, saying that maintaining peace was most important for the state and only his party was capable of it.
In the wake of elections, the state government has declared a paid holiday for employees working in shops, commercial establishments and factories on Sunday.
In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, the Congress had ended the SAD-BJP combine's 10-year-regime by bagging 77 seats.
AAP had managed to get 20 seats while the SAD-BJP had won 18 and two seats went into the kitty of the Lok Insaaf Party.
In UP, voting will be held for 59 Assembly constituencies spread across 16 districts.
As many as 627 candidates are in the fray in this phase, in which over 2.15 crore people are eligible to vote.
Districts where polling will be held are Hathras, Firozabad, Etah, Kasganj, Mainpuri, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Mahoba.
The Karhal assembly seat, from where Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting, will also go to the polls in the third phase on Sunday.
The BJP has fielded Union minister S P Singh Baghel from the seat.
Polling on Sunday will also seal the fate of the Samajwadi Party chief's uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, who is contesting from his traditional Jaswantnagar seat.
In the 2017 elections, the BJP had won 49 of the 59 seats while the SP had settled for nine. The Congress had got one seat, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) drew a blank.