UP elections: Polling picks up pace in fifth phase after slow start
After a slow start, polling picked up in the fifth phase of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. Fifty-two seats are at stake in this phase of the polls.india Updated: Feb 27, 2017 16:12 IST
An estimated 38% voters exercised their franchise till midday on Monday in the fifth phase of polling for 52 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh with the focus particularly on Amethi and Faizabad.
The polling 12 districts started on a slow note in the morning but gradually picked up as the day passed. By 9am, 10.15% votes were polled. The figure surged to 38.12% at 1pm.
A large number of voters were seen in queue at polling booths in rural areas of Sultanpur, Faizabad, Bahraich and Basti districts. In urban areas, polling was brisk.
The festive mood was quite apparent in Ayodhya where a large number of sadhus and mahants (priests) cast their votes.
Such was the zeal that though septuagenarian Ram Prakash, resident of Jarwal Road in Gonda district, died on Sunday night, his wife Shanti, sons Kishore, Buddha Ram and daughters-in-law Savita and Anita visited polling booths early in the morning to cast their vote before taking the body for cremation.
This phase is crucial for the Samajwadi Party that is striving had to retain power.
In the 2012 assembly election, the SP won 37 of the 52 seats, the BJP bagged five seats, the Congress five, the BSP three and the Peace Party two assembly seats. The BSP and the BJP are trying to regain their support and are giving the ruling SP a tough fight.
Additional chief electoral officer (ACEO) PK Pandey said there was no report of any untoward incident during polling.
There were reports of a clash between SP and BJP supporters in Milkipur assembly segment in Faizabad district. Security personnel rushed to the spot and dispersed the mob.
Voters boycotted polling on development issues at Hadpur Janakpur village in Balrampur district.
Electronic voting machines (EVM) developed snags at a few polling booths in Gonda, Bahraich, Siddharth Nagar and the voters had to wait till they were repaired by polling personnel.
Polling was halted for a while after an allegedly drunk voter smashed an EVM in Abhaipur polling station in Colonelganj assembly constituency in Gonda district. Voting resumed 30 minutes after the incident as polling officials replaced the machine.
The movement of people and vehicular traffic on the India-Nepal border in Bahraich, Siddharth Nagar, Shravasti and Balrampur districts was blocked during polling. Central paramilitary forces (CPMF) were deployed on the border to maintain vigil on activities of anti-social elements.
A majority of the candidates visited polling booths early in the morning to cast their vote.
Congress candidate Ameeta Sinh visited a polling booth with her husband Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Sinh to cast her vote in Amethi. Garima Singh, first wife of Sinh, too visited the polling booth with supporters to vote. Garima is also contesting the Amethi seat.
A controversy erupted after BJP and BSP leaders said UP minister Gayatri Prajapati, another candidate for the Amethi seat, forced his entry into the booth. The district returning officer said an inquiry has been ordered.
The fate of 607 candidates – 567 men and 40 women — will be decided in Monday’s polling.
State assembly speaker Mata Prasad Pandey is contesting on the SP ticket from Itwa seat in Siddharth Nagar district. The ministers who are in the fray include Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh, Gayatri Prajapati, Pawan Pandey, Shiv Pratap Yadav, Yasar Shah, Bansi Dhar Baudh, Shankhlal Manjhi, Awadesh Prasad and Ramkaran Arya.
Prominent leaders of other parties in the fray include Ameeta Sinh (Congress), BSP state president Ramachal Rajbhar, former ministers Lalji Verma and Ram Prasad Chaudhary (BSP), former BJP state unit president Ramapati Shastri, Peace Party chief Mohammad Ayub, former minister Rajkishore Singh (SP) and Prateek Bhusan Singh, son of BJP MP from Kaiserganj Brijbhusan Sharan Singh.