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Sixty per cent turnout in sixth phase of UP polls

Last updated on: February 28, 2012 19:03 IST

Sixty per cent turnout in sixth phase of UP polls

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Sharat Pradhan

The steady turnout right from morning took Tuesday's Uttar Pradesh phase six poll to an impressive 60 per cent.

"Today appears to be more like the first phase when polling crossed the 60 per cent mark," said Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha at the close of the sixth phase polling in 68 assembly constituencies spread across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

"The highest turnout was reported from Saharanpur district, where it touched nearly 65 per cent, while the lowest was reported from Gautam Budh nagar (Noida) with about 56 per cent," Sinha said.

However, in the fiercely contested four-cornered electoral battle, which political outfit was likely to benefit most out of the high voter turnout remains a million dollar question.

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Image: A voting official marks the finger of a voter inside a polling booth in UP
Photographs: Reuters

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Sixty per cent turnout in sixth phase of UP polls

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The fate of as many as 1,103 candidates was sealed in some 30,000 electronic voting machines installed at 21,317 polling stations across the districts of Saharanpur, Prabudh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat. Ghaziabad, Gautam Buidh Nagar, Panchseel Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura and Agra.

"Polling started at 7 am and it is heartening that about 60 per cent of the 2.17 crore voters responded to the echoing appeals of the Election Commission to exercise their franchise," Sinha said, while adding, "this was way ahead of the 2007 state assembly election turnout of barely 46 per cent."

In Bhatta Parsaul, which was the centre of the land acquisition row, farmers were seen coming out to vote. Their leader Manvir Singh Tevatia, who had spearheaded the farmers' agitation, is fighting elections from jail. The area falls under the Jewar assembly seat.

Congress has fielded Dhirendra Singh from Jewar. He was the man on whose bike Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had reached Bhatta Parsaul last year.

In Chief Minister Mayawati's native Badalpur village, farmers had lined up to cast their vote even before the polling began. BSP has fielded Satvir Gujjar, the sitting MLA, while Congress has fielded Samir Bhatti.

This phase would also decide the fate of youth face of Rashtriya Lol Dal Jayant Chaudhary, as well as Energy Minister Ramveer Upadhyaya, deputy leader of BJP Legislative Party Hukkum Singh and former minister Rajveer Singh, who is also son of former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.

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Image: A polling official sits inside a supply truck before leaving for his assigned polling station after collecting the electronic voting machines from a distribution centre
Photographs: Reuters

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Sixty per cent turnout in sixth phase of UP polls

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Except for two specific minor incidents of trouble, polling remained peaceful all over the otherwise volatile belt of Western UP. According to reports, police used mild force to disperse a local Bahujan Samaj Party leader and his supporters creating ruckus at a polling centre at Singhani gate area in Ghaziabad because of some delay in issue of voter slips outside the polling stations.

Likewise, people attempted to create some ruckus at a polling centre at Ahmadia Hameedia college in Man-Tola locality of Agra over alleged inconsistencies in the electoral rolls.

Even as this entire belt is notorious for its male chauvinism and their dominance, with as many as 93,91,585 women listed as voters, the phase has the highest number of women electors and some 712 eunuchs.

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Image: RLD chief Ajit Singh


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Sixty per cent turnout in sixth phase of UP polls

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The day's voting has clearly put to test the impact of the Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine on both the Jat as well as the Muslim vote bank, which dominate large parts of the 13 districts that went to poll.

While Samajwadi Party too moved heaven and earth to win back its erstwhile Muslim vote, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party's struggle was clearly aimed at retaining the larger chunk of 35 seats it had won in 2007, while the Bharatiya Janata Party followed with 12 seats, RLD with 10, SP with 3, Congress 2 and  Others 5 seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party worked towards polarisation of its traditional vote bank of hardcore Hindus by making echoing references to the blatant Muslim baiting by both the Congress-RLD combine and the SP.

Prominent among those whose prestige was at stake in this round of voting were RLD chief Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Chaudhary, who was in the fray from Mathura from where he was a Lok Sabha memeber, former UP chief minister and former BJP president Raj Nath Singh, who was a MP from Ghaziabad, ousted BSP minister Haji Yaqub Quraishi, who had now switched loyalties to RLD, SP's most visible Muslim face Azam Khan who campaigned extensively in this region and Rashid Masood, who switched sides from SP to the Congress not very long ago.

Ramveer Upadhayaya and Laxmi Narain were among the prominent ministers in the Mayawati government, who were also in the fray during this phase.

The scramble for the Muslim vote had led Mulayam Singh Yadav to also award a ticket to the son-in-law of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Maulana Ahmed Buklhari, who was there to campaign for the Samajwadi Party.


Image: Voters line up in a queue outside a polling booth to cast their vote during the state assembly election
Photographs: Reuters

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