Lucknow: Voting for the fifth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls began on Sunday morning, with state Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya among 692 candidates, who are contesting on 61 seats spread across 12 districts.
The voting started at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. Around 2.24 crore people are eligible to vote in this phase.
The districts where polling is being held are Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Barabanki, Bahraich, Shravasti and Gonda.
Amethi and Raebareli, once considered Congress bastions, and Ayodhya, the epicentre of the Ram temple movement, too will vote on Sunday.
Prominent faces in the fray are Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who is contesting from the Sirathu in Kaushambi district. He is facing Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) candidate Pallavi Patel.
Other ministers in the fray are Siddharth Nath Singh from Allahabad West, Rajendra Singh from Patti (Pratapgarh), Nand Gopal Gupta Nadi from Allahabad South and Ramapati Shastri from Mankapur (Gonda).
Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya, who is the MLA from Kunda since 1993, is once again in the fray as Jansatta Dal candidate, with old aide Gulshan Yadav contesting against him on the Samajwadi Party ticket.
Union minister Anupriya Patel's mother and Apna Dal (K) leader Krishna Patel is contesting from the Pratapgarh seat. The Apna Dal (K) has entered into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party.
Union minister Anupriya Patel, heading a rival faction of the party named after her father Sonelal Patel, however, has handed over the seat to the BJP to challenge her mother Krishna Patel.
Congress Legislative Party leader Aradhana Mishra Mona is fighting from Rampur Khas of Pratapgarh.
With the completion of polling on Sunday, Uttar Pradesh will have voted on 292 of the total 403 seats in the Assembly. The last two phases of the elections will be held on March 3 and 7.
As part of the electioneering for the fifth phase, PM Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had criss-crossed the poll-bound constituencies.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too have toured the constituencies extensively.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had digitally addressed a rally for voters of her Raebareli constituency. In the final round of campaigning on Friday, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi jointly addressed a rally in Amethi.
Prime Minister Modi addressed a series of rallies in Amethi, Prayagraj, Kaushambi and Bahraich, and attacked opponents mainly on the issues of vote bank politics and dynasty politics.
State Chief Election Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla said all necessary arrangements have been made for the fifth phase of the polls. PTI