With nearly 45 per cent electorate exercising their franchise in the sixth phase of assembly polling the much-publicised BJP-Janata Dal (U)- Apna Dal alliance was on Thursday put to severe test in eastern UP. The BJP in order to win over the backward class voters in Poorvanchal had entered into the alliance, which turned out to quite uneasy for both.
Apna Dal, which had won four seats in 2002 from this region, has been banking on the large Kurmi population in Allahabad, Varanasi, Jaunpur and adjoining areas, which went to the polls on Thursday.
Amid tight security arrangements the polling passed off peacefully in 52 constituencies in nine districts, including Naxal-battered Mirzapur, Sonebhadra and Chanduali. The Election Commission had taken special measures to ward off threats from Naxalites. Ignoring Naxals' call for poll boycott a large number of tribals came out to cast vote in these districts.
Talking to newsmen, Chief Electoral Officer AK Bishnoi said the commission had received 29 complaints about technical problems in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and 10 complaints about voters' lists and photo identity cards. He said polling was peaceful.
Bishnoi said even though tight security arrangements were made to hold free and fair polling in the Naxals affected areas Army commandos were not deployed. He said only the defence helicopter was taken for sorties in the Naxal zone. Bishnoi said central para-military force (CPMF) was given charge of the region. The commission has deployed Deputy Election Commissioner JP Prakash with a helicopter to hop around in constituencies to monitoring the situation. Apart from general observers additional observers were also in each of the districts.
He said district-wise polling percentage was Allahabad 42.32 , Kaushambi 43.66, Mirzapur 43.44, Sonebhadra 46, Sant Ravidas Nagar 41.07, Chandauli 45.12, Ghazipur 44, Jaunpur 41.26 and Varanasi 40.39. While the largest turn out being 51 per cent in Chakia (Chandauli), minimum was 27 per cent in Allahabad North. Bishnoi said in the 2002 assembly election the polling percentage was 51.87 and in 2004 Lok Sabha poll it was 47.
Bishnoi said the presiding officer at a polling station in Dildarnagar Gopalji Pandey was arrested along with a boy Rameshwar, who was trying to cast a fake vote with the help of ration card. Similarly a constable Pravesh Kumar Singh was arrested with a country made revolver at the polling station in Mohammadabad. In the Lok Sabha bye-election in Roberstganj and Mirzapur the polling percentage was 43.44 and 41.70 respectively. Prominent contestants were BJP chief Kesrinath Tripathi, Narendra Singh Gaur, Om Prakash Singh, Shyam Surat Upadhya, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Rajesh Pati and Apna Dal chief Sonelal Patel.