The high stakes battle for power in Uttar Pradesh entered the last
lap Tuesday with 60 percent peaceful voting in the sixth and
penultimate round of the assembly elections that end next week.
The turnout among the 2.11 crore voters was in keeping with the
high percentage in the last five rounds. Polling in 68
constituencies across 13 districts in western Uttar Pradesh had
begun at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
"Today appears to be more like the first phase when polling
crossed the 60 per cent mark", chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha
told IANS at the close of balloting.
"The highest turnout was reported from Saharanpur district, where
it touched nearly 65 per cent, while the lowest was reported from
Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida) at about 56 per cent," he added.
In Agra too, there was high voting with the polling percentage
crossing 51 percent at 3 p.m., two hours before polling ended.
"Polling started at 7 am and it is heartening that about 60
percent of the 2.17 crore voters responded to echoing appeals of
the Election Commission to exercise their franchise", Sinha said,
adding: "This is way ahead of the turnout of barely 46 percent at
the last assembly election," Sinha said.
The fate of 1,103 candidates was sealed in some 30,000 electronic
voting machines installed at 21,317 polling stations across the
districts of Saharanpur, Prabudh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut,
Baghpat. Ghaziabad, Gautam Buidh Nagar, Panchseel Nagar,
Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura and Agra.
Though the belt is notorious for its feudal traditions, this phase
had 9,391,585 women listed as voters, the highest, besides 712
Except for two minor incidents, polling remained peaceful all over
the otherwise volatile belt of western UP. According to reports,
police used mild force to disperse a ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
leader and his supporters who were creating a ruckus at a polling
centre at Singhani Gate area of Ghaziabad because of a delay in
issuing voter slips.
Some people attempted to create some ruckus at a polling centre at
Ahmadia Hameedia College in Man-Tola locality of Agra over alleged
inconsistencies in the electoral rolls.
While the elections were proceeding peacefully, there were some
glitches as well. Key Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal was on his
way to Goa but returned from the airport to vote from Ghaziabad
only to find his name missing from the voters list.
Among the candidates testing their luck in the sixth phase was
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh's son Jayant Chaudhury.
The impact of the Congress-RLD combine on the Jat and the Muslim
voters, who dominate large parts of the 13 districts, was on test.
While the Samajwadi Party (SP) vied desperately for the Muslim
vote, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) tried hard to retain
its chunk of 35 seats won in 2007.
Four of the 13 districts witnessing the poll have a substantial
Muslim population ranging between 25-39 percent, while the
remaining nine districts have 18-22 percent Muslims.
Counting of votes for this high stakes battle will be done March