Braving heat around 46 per cent electorate on Saturday peacefully sealed the fate of 850 candidates in 57 assembly constituencies in nine districts. Significantly from Banda-Chitrakoot to Pratapgarh, which were especially on the radar of the Election Commission, the polling passed off peacefully amid tight security.
This phase was prestigious for Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, in whose parliamentary constituencies Rae Bareli, Amethi and Lucknow respectively polling was also held. Vajpayee, who was scheduled to exercise his franchise at LMC polling centre in Lucknow, could not come from Delhi because of illness.
Addressing newsmen the chief electoral officer AK Bishnoi said except 20 complaints about voter lists and photo identity cards, the polling process was completed unhindered.
In view of the activity of dacoits Shiv Kumar Patel alias Dadua, Ambika Patel alias Thokia and other in Banda-Chitrakoot region the commission had made extra security arrangements in villages to ensure voters’ participation.
Similarly, Pratapgarh was also sensitive because of candidature of Mafiosi-turned politician Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhayya from Kunda and Dadua’s brother Bal Kumar from Patti. These districts with total population of 2.32 crore had 1.59 electorates. There were 115 candidates facing criminal charges.
The fate of BJP leader Lalji Tandon, ministers Naresh Agarwal, Dr Ashok Bajpai, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhayya, RK Chaudhury, BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Congress leaders Pramod Tiwari and Amita Singh, Akhilesh Kumar Singh (independent) was locked in the EVM.
District wise polling percentage was Hardoi (43.49), Unnao (45.44), Lucknow (37), Rae Bareli (44.74), Sultanpur (41.59) Pratapgarh (41.25), Fatehpur (47.4), Banda (39) and Chitrakoot (40). While largest turnout was 54 per cent in Jahanabad (Fatehpur) the minimum was 28 per cent in Lucknow West.
Percentage in prominent constituencies like Amethi was 45, BJP leader Lalji Tandon’s Lucknow West 28, Congress leader Pramod Tiwari’s Rampur Khas 44, Raja Bhayya’s Kunda 34, Rae Bareli 45, Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal’s Hardoi 45 and minister Dr Ashok Bajpai’s Pihani 44.
Bishnoi said in 2002 assembly poll the percentage was 53.65 in these segments and later in 2004 parliamentary elections it was 43.1 While Deputy Election Commissioner JP Prakash toured the constituencies by helicopter, the commission had also stationed special observers in sensitive districts.
Bishnoi said 150 micro observers were deployed in Pratapgarh, Banda and Chitrakoot. He said FIR was lodged against pradhan of village Jabraila in Unnao Mahesh Yadav for preparing fake ration card. In Issauli (Sultanpur) three persons were arrested for creating law and order problem.
There was brisk polling during early hours but as the mercury soared voters’ queues were thinned only to gain momentum in the afternoon. There was last minute rush of the voters as the polling came to an end at 5 pm.