Voters in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Manipur cast their votes in the ongoing assembly polls on Saturday, with no major incidents of violence being reported by election authorities.
While 57.03% of the population exercised their franchise in the sixth phase of the UP elections, which will decide the political fate of 49 assembly constituencies, 84% of the people spread across 38 constituencies cast their votes in the first phase of the Manipur polls.
The polling percentage in the 2012 UP elections was lower at 54.72%. While Maharajganj topped the polling chart with over 60.80% votes, Gorakhpur recorded 56.89%. Azamgarh polled 56.38% while Ballia, Deoria, Kushinagar and Mau recorded 55.57%, 54.89%, 58.08% and 58.75% respectively.
Though no major political clashes were reported, the kin of a few BSP candidates were booked for abducting SP and BJP polling agents.
The seven districts that went to the polls in the sixth phase of the elections comprised Gorakhpur, Deoria, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Balia, Mau and Azamgarh. As many as 635 candidates, including 63 women, were in the fray.
The BJP fielded 45 candidates in this phase of the elections, while its allies – Apna Dal and Suhel Dev Bhartiya Party – contested one seat each. The BSP fielded candidates in all 49 seats while the SP and its ally Congress contested from 40 and nine seats respectively.
In the 2012 assembly elections, the SP won 27 seats from this region while the BSP turned out to be the runner-up with nine. The BJP and the Congress won seven and two seats respectively.
This phase of the election will decide the fate of several political heavyweights, including BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya (on a BJP ticket from Padrauna in Kusinagar), Radhey Shyam Singh (on an SP ticket from Hata Kushinagar), Brahma Shankar Tripathi (on an SP ticket from Kushinagar), and UP legislative council chairman Ganesh Shankar Pandey (on a BSP ticket from Maharajganj’s Paneyra).
The first phase of the Manipur polls witnessed scuffles between supporters of rival parties at a few polling booths amid speculations that repolling may be announced at certain areas. However, the turnout was surprisingly heavy due to voter awareness programmes conducted prior to the polls.
The BJP, which could not win a single seat in the last assembly polls, is the only party contesting from all the 60 seats in Manipur. Besides the ruling Congress, which is fielding 59 candidates (37 in the first phase), the other political entities in the fray are the National People’s Party, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Lokjana Sakhti and Left parties.
The first phase of the polls, which was conducted at 1,643 polling stations spread across Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Kangpokpi, Pherzawl and Churachandpur districts, will decide the fate of 168 candidates – including seven women.
Irom Sharmila, Manipur’s iconic rights activist, cast her vote in Khurai constituency after a gap of almost two decades on Saturday. She will contest from Thoubal constituency in the second phase of the polling, to be held in 10 districts of the state on March 8. Sharmila expressed confidence that she will be able to bring about change in the state.