Voting for 55 Assembly seats spread across nine Uttar Pradesh districts started on Monday morning.

This is the second phase of the Assembly elections in the state.

As many as 586 candidates are in the fray in this phase with the seats spread across Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur.

Of the 55 seats, the BJP had won 38 in 2017 while the Samajwadi Party bagged 15 and the Congress two. The SP and the Congress had contested the last Assembly elections together.

Of the 15 seats won by the SP, Muslim candidates had emerged victorious on 10. The areas going to polls in this phase have a sizeable Muslim population influenced by religious leaders of the Barelvi and Deoband sects.

These areas are considered strongholds of the Samajwadi Party.

The prominent faces in the fray in this phase include Dharam Singh Saini, a Yogi Adityanath government minister who had switched to the SP before the polls. Saini is trying his luck from the Nakur Assembly segment.

Senior SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan has been fielded from his stronghold Rampur while UP’s Finance Minister Suresh Khanna from Shahjahanpur.

Khan’s son Abdullah Azam has been fielded from the Swar seat. He has been pitted against Haider Ali Khan, the heir of the Nawabs of Rampur, who is trying his luck on the ticket of the Apna Dal (Sonelal), a BJP ally.

Haider Ali Khan is the grandson of former MP Noor Bano.

UP Minister of State for Jal Shakti Baldev Singh Aulakh is contesting from Bilaspur, Minister of State for Urban Development Mahesh Chandra Gupta from Badaun and Minister of State for Secondary Education Gulab Devi from Chandausi.

The former mayor of Bareilly, Supriya Aron, is contesting from Bareilly Cantonment on SP ticket.

With the elections being held amid the Covid scare, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Brahmdev Ram Tripathi said all necessary arrangements have been made to ensure free, fair, transparent and Covid-safe polling.

Polling for the first phase of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections was held on February 10. The results will be declared on March 10.