Over 60 percent turnout in UP second phase poll

Lucknow : Keeping up with the first phase, ballotting in 59 constituencies in the second phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections Saturday touched 60 percent and seemed set to go up, officials said. Polling was peaceful.

“Despite the chilly morning, people came out in large numbers to cast their vote in almost all of the 59 assembly constituencies that went to poll across nine districts of the state. No wonder, the polling percentage went up to about 60 percent, and will go up,” state’s chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha told media persons here. The first phase saw a 62 percent turnout.

“Even as we were keeping our fingers crossed, on account of the various complexities prevailing in the area, polling was carried out very peacefully, without a single untoward incident being reported from anywhere,” he said.

Sinha described the task as huge, since the number of candidates and the spread of the constituencies was very large.

Over 120,000 security personnel, including about 55,000 central para-military troopers and 10,000 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), were deployed to maintain a strict vigil in the crime-prone, communally-sensitive and poverty-ridden expanse of eastern Uttar Pradesh where the voting was held.

The voting has sealed the fate of 1,098 candidates, of whom the 1.97 crore voters were to elect their 59 representatives for the 403-member state assembly.

The phase is crucial for the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had bagged as many as 30 of the 59 seats in the region in the 2007 assembly elections. The Samajwadi Party (SP) had won 21 seats, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) got 6 and Congress trailed last with two seats here.

Other than Gorakhpur, the districts where polling was held are Azamgarh, Ballia, Ghazipur, Maharajganj, Deoria, Mau, Sant Kabir Nagar and Kushinagar, where 20,426 polling stations with some 20,800 electronic voting machines (EVM) were in place.

Different political parties seem to view the impressive turnout from their respective angles.

The BSP claimed it was an indication of a major swing in its favour. “I am quite confident that our party will retain all of 30 seats we had won last time,” claimed a key BSP functionary.

However, the Congress sees the high turnout of youth as a reflection of the surge for Rahul Gandhi, while Samajwadi Party was ready to give itself a substantial jump from its last tally of six.

“All the anti-incumbency votes against Mayawati will come to us,” claimed SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Gorakhpur felt that the party would definitely make a significant gain.

A number of prominent leaders including 30 sitting legislators and 21 former ministers were in fray. Prominent among them were Assembly Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar, BJP state president Surya Pratap Shahi, BSP state chief Swami Prasad Maurya, mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari as well as Peace Party president Dr. Ayub.

The SP had fielded Aman Mani Tripathi, the son of jailed politician Amarmani Tripathi, convicted for the murder of his girlfriend and Hindi poetess Madhumita Shukla.

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