People in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Manipur voted on Wednesday, ending the month-long assembly elections in five states on a high note.
The second and final round of elections for 22 seats in Manipur recorded 83% voter turnout, which is a tad lower than the 86% in the first phase for 38 seats.
In UP, the turnout for the seventh phase was 60.03%.
The final phase was the smallest in UP with 40 constituencies spread over seven districts, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, Varanasi.
The BJP had put maximum efforts to win the five seats within Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency. The Prime Minister camped in Varanasi for three days, while about 20 ministers from his council canvassed in the region.
The BJP faces a stiff challenge from the Samajwadi Party and Congress, which are contesting the polls as allies, and the BSP of four-time chief minister Mayawati.
In Manipur, the BJP is looking to defeat the Congress, which has been ruling the state for the past 15 years.
The final phase pitted three-term chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh against human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who is contesting against him from Thoubal.
“We will get a clear mandate. This election is something like a referendum, both in the hills and the valley,” Singh said after casting his vote. “We will get at least 36 seats.”
Sharmila, contesting on a Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) ticket, went to most polling stations in the constituency and interacted with voters, especially women.
“The response from the people is positive,” she said.
The voter response in Varanasi is mixed. Many of them rooted for chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the Samajwadi national president. Others preferred Modi.
“Candidates hardly matter to me. I voted for Modi since he promises development and has started various development projects in Varnasi. If the BJP comes to power, development will flow in Varanasi,” said a shopkeeper in the temple town by the Ganga.
Voting caught pace by noon. By 3 pm, the turnout crossed the 50% mark. No untoward incident was reported from any booth.
Manipur recorded long queues since morning outside most of the 1,151 polling stations. Over 12% voters exercised their right within the first hour.
Voting was by and large peaceful. But a booth official — primary school teacher H Ramkating — wounded in a bomb blast in Kamjong district on Tuesday afternoon died the following day. This was the first instance of poll-related death in the state these elections.
The poll results for UP, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur will be declared on Saturday.