Ten districts of Uttar Pradesh will go to the polls Saturday in the seventh and last phase of balloting whose outcome is being keenly watched across India and even beyond.

About 18.1 million voters spread over 60 constituencies will be eligible to exercise their franchise to pick from among 962 candidates in Lakhimpur Kheri, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Rampur, Badayun, Moradabad, Bijnor, Amroha, Bhimnagar and Pilibhit.

The Saturday polling assumes significance as most of the seats have sizeable Muslim voters who could make or mar the prospects of key players that are vying for the community's votes.

This includes the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has harped on corruption. It has accused both the BSP and the Congress of being neck deep in corruption.

This phase will test the waters for Congress leader and union minister Jatin Prasad (Shahjahanpur), BJP leader and former central minister Maneka Gandhi (Aonla), her son Varun Gandhi (Pilibhit), cricketer-turned-Congress MP Mohammed Azharuddin (Moradabad), Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohammed Azam Khan (Rampur) and Jaya Prada (Rampur).

The BSP has a lot at stake as Jugul Kishore, the son of its coordinator and close aide of Chief Minister Mayawati, is contesting from Kasta.

A total of 12,907 polling stations have been set up for Saturday. Authorities say that boundaries with Nepal and Uttarakhand have been sealed from Thursday evening.

The deafening and high-voltage campaign in the state ended Thursday evening. On the last day of campaigning all major political parties brought out their star campaigners to woo the voters.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav held rallies at Shahjahanpur and Pilibhit, BJP president Nitin Gadkari addressed meetings at Rampur and Moradabad, BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj toured Badayun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur, and Congress leader and central minister Salman Khurshid was at Shahjahanpur and Bareilly.

In the 2007 polls, the BSP had done fairly well in this region and had gained 27 seats. The Samajwadi Party was a distant second with 17 seats. The BJP was runners up in nine constituencies. The Congress got just two seats.

The National Election Watch has named 95 of the 962 candidates as those with criminal cases against them.

Of this 27 are from the Samajwadi Party, 20 from the BJP, 13 from the BSP, 14 from the Congress, four from the Rashtriya Lok Dal, 13 from Peace Party and four from the Janta Dal-United.

State Chief Electoral officer Umesh Sinha told IANS that all arrangements had been made for the smooth conduct of the elections.

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