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Turnout free fall continues

The fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which included nine constituencies of Lucknow, showed 57.2 % voting, the lowest so far. The overall polling figure for Lucknow district was 55.89%. Casting votes

india Updated: Feb 20, 2012 00:18 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal

Lucknow failed to walk its talk about raising the voters' turnout.

The fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which included nine constituencies of Lucknow, showed 57.2 % voting, the lowest so far. The overall polling figure for Lucknow district was 55.89%.

In fact, the poll percentage has been showing a steady decline. From 62% in the first phase, it went down to 59% in the second phase, 57.25% in the third phase and now 57.2%.

Given that conventional wisdom equates a high turnout with anti-incumbency, the low polling was a shot in the arm for the BSP. Chief Minister Mayawati predicted a better performance for BSP than 2007.

But it also appears that Lucknow's poll figure, while low, is its best in recent times. The district's turnout for the 2007 assembly elections was 35.85%, in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections 40.24% and in the 2002 assembly polls 42.23%.

"Lucknow did better than before, but it could have done far better," said Umesh Sinha, the state's chief electoral officer.

The figure, however, was enough to please the Samajwadi Party and the BJP.

"The party will win some 30 seats in the fourth round," said Narendra Singh Tomar, BJP secretary and in-charge of UP affairs.

"People have made up their mind to vote for the SP. We will get over 140 seats in the first four rounds," said SP state party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

This phase of polling across 56 constituencies will decide the fate of 967 candidates -- including three ministers, 32 sitting legislators and 12 former ministers, including BJP's national vice-president Kalraj Mishra, Congress state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Congress Legislative Party leader Pramod Tiwari and of Louise Khurshid, wife of Union law minister Salman Khurshid.

In a poll was declared "peaceful" and "smooth", missing names in voters' list angered people in Rae Bareli (Sadar) constituency. It required police intervention, in which five persons were injured.

Barring this incident, the Nehru-Gandhi bastion responded enthusiastically, with a turnout of 59.80% . This is 14% more than 2007, when 46% had cast their vote.

Villagers lock up polling station
All 520 voters of Patna village in Banda district of Bundelkhand, abstained from voting on Sunday. Finding that the centre did not have 17A forms to record their abstinence, the villagers had locked the polling station. It was later unlocked by EC officials. "This place has remained primitive," said Brijesh Singh, who has been leading the 'boycott movement'. The village has only one school, that too primary. No power, no tubewell, no health centre and no link road.