Perhaps for the first time in recent memory, genuine voters in the Etawah, Auraiyya, Mainpuri and Etah districts, popularly known as the ‘Yadavland’ of Uttar Pradesh, came out to vote for their respective candidates sans any fear, all thanks to the strict measures taken by the Election Commission.
Take for example Shanti Devi, resident of Acchalda in Bidhuna Vidhan Sabha seat, who exercised her franchise for the first time. A visibly happy Shanti said she could not venture out due to terror of booth looters in previous assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Things were certainly different this time, she said.
In 2002 assembly election and in the recently concluded local bodies poll, anti social elements had captured the booths located in the Janta Inter College, Etawah. But this time there were no such complaints. Be it in Aurraiya, Etawah, Mainpuri or Etah, the villagers were all praise for the measures taken by the Election Commission.
Natives of Padhani village in Aurraiya district said earlier it was unimaginable for us that election could be so free and fair. During the last assembly election there was violent clashes between the supporters of two political parties and majority of the voters could not cast their vote. A retired teacher RB Singh said, “This is true democracy. The voters are casting their votes fearlessly and without any inhibition.”
While armed jawans of the Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMF) were deputed on all the polling booths, local policemen were deputed outside. Residents of Bidhuna (Aurraiya) said law and order was restored and anti social elements were on the run the day CPMF landed in the town. Flag march was organized to restore confidence among the voters.
In Bharthana Vidhan Sabha seat, from where Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting the election, the polling started on a slow pace but picked up gradually as the day passed. Hardly any agents of political parties were present at the booths. Leaders of the SP, the BSP and the BJP said since the polling was fair and CPMF jawans were allowing the voters to enter the booth only after screening them, there was no need to depute agents.
At Pachuwa, another village in Bharthana assembly segment that had gained notoriety due to booth capturing and rigging, there was complete order at the booths this time round. Also, there was large turnout of women, elders and youths.
In Saifai, the native village of the chief minister, the polling percentage was surprisingly very low. Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav and his nephew Dharmendra Yadav were seen making frantic appeal to the voters to cast their vote. A group of youths entered the premises of the polling station but had to beat a hasty retreat as the CPMF jawans gave them a hot chase.
The polling officials said merely 40 per cent votes were polled in comparison to around 70 per cent in the previous election.
In Etah and Mainpuri districts also polling remained by and large peaceful. Residents of Aliganj in Etah district, who first feared violence like in the last assembly election, were surprised to find no trace of any anti social elements. In Karhal Vidhan Sabha seat in Mainpuri districts, groups of women, children and youths were seen standing sharing their views on the election. “Everything was so cool,” they said.