LUCKNOW -- Polling began this morning in 53 constituencies spread over 12 districts that figure in the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
The districts include the backward Bundelkhand region and the Nehru-Gandhi pocket borough of Rae Bareli.
Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency are among the seats where the electoral exercise is taking place.
However, in a first since 1998, Gandhi gave campaigning a miss in her constituency.
Other districts, where polling is going on amid tight security are Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Fatehpur.
Backward and water-scarce Bundelkhand region also figures in this phase.
Inter district and inter state borders have been sealed. Patrolling by security forces has been intensified in poll-bound areas and most of the polling centres are manned by the central Para Military Forces.
The fate of 680 candidates will be decided by 1.84 crore voters including 84 lakh women and 1,032 of third gender.
The maximum number of 26 candidates are from Allahabad North, while only six candidates are in fray in Khaga (Fatehpur), Manjhanpur (Kaushambi) and Kunda (Pratapgarh).
BSP has fielded its nominees in all 53 seats, while BJP's nominees are fielded in 48 constituencies, leaving 6 seats for its ally Apana Dal.
The SP nominees are contesting from 30 segments and its ally Congress is in fray from 25 constituencies.
In the 2012 Assebmly polls, out of the 53 seats in the fouth phase, Samajwadi Party had won 24, BJP 5, BSP 15, Congress 6 and 'others' 3.
The prominent contestants include sitting Congress MLA Aradhana Mishra from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh), the daughter of MP Pramod Tiwari, and independent MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is again contesting from his traditional Kunda (Pratapgarh) seat.
In Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh is contesting on Congress ticket, BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya's son Utkarsh Maurya is in fray from Unchahar seat, while the Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar is contesting from Naraini (Banda) seat.
Senior SP leader Reoti Raman Singh's son Ujjwal Raman Singh is in the race from Karchana (Allahabad) seat.
Elections for UP legislative assembly are being held in seven phases with three more -- February 27, March 4 and 8 -- to follow after today's polling. The results will be out on March 11.
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