The third round of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections ended on a
peaceful note Wednesday with an estimated 57-58 percent of the
1.77 crore electorate in 56 constituencies exercising their
franchise, officials said.
Polling in the 56 assembly constituencies began at 7 a.m. and
ended at 5 p.m.
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told IANS that the turnout was
an estimated 57-58 percent at the end of day, far higher than the
42.6 percent turnout in the last assembly elections in 2007. While
the first phase saw a turnout of 62 percent, the second was also
high at 59 percent.
Elections were held in the high-profile districts of Amethi
(rechristened Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar), the
parliamentary seat of Congress star campaigner Rahul Gandhi, as
well as Sultanpur, the other Gandhi family bastion, and the
traditional Nehru-Gandhi home Allahabad.
Among the other districts that went to the polls were Varanasi,
Jaunpur, Mirzapur, Bhadohi (renamed Sant Ravidas Nagar),
Kaushambhi, Sonbhadra and Chandauli - most of which are situated
along the banks of the Ganga river.
The fate of 1,018 candidates vying for the 56 seats at stake was
determined by 1.77 crore voters at 18,374 polling stations, where
31,400 electronic voting machines were in place.
Long queues were reported from most of the places, including
Amethi, where people were seen making a beeline for polling booths
well before 7 a.m.
The voter turnout was, however, stated to be relatively low in
some areas like Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonbhadra, bordering
Madhya Pradesh, where Maoists have a considerable presence.
Besides Maoists, the presence of a number of candidates with
criminal backgrounds had prompted the Election Commission to
deploy additional police force in the sensitive areas.
Nearly 31 percent of candidates fielded by political parties for
the third phase had criminal cases pending against them.
According to a report of the National Election Watch and
Association for Democratic Reforms, all political parties were
Samajwadi Party (SP) topped the list with 24 of its 48 nominees
having several criminal cases pending against them. The Congress
party had 14 of 48, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had 13 of 47,
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 12 of 49, Janata Dal-United six of 24,
Bundelkhand Congress four of 13, Peace Party two of 12 and Apna
Dal had one of six with a criminal background.
The seven-phase elections began Feb 8 and end March 3. The votes
will be counted March 6.