Hundreds of thousands vote in UP (Third Lead)

March 3rd, 2012 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Lucknow, March 3 (IANS) Hundreds of thousands voted Saturday in 60 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh in the seventh and final phase of polling to pick a 403-seat assembly in the country’s most populous state.

Around 40 percent of the 18 million eligible to vote Saturday had cast their ballots between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., officials monitoring the mammoth exercise here said.

Saturday’s balloting covered 10 districts, with several political VIPs turning out to vote early in the day. These included actor-politician Jaya Prada and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Muqtar Abbas Naqvi.

An Election Commission official said the polling was going on smoothly.

But 17 women constables going for election work were injured when their bus overturned in Moradabad.

On Friday night, returning officers of two polling booths — one each in Bijnor and Moradabad districts — died following heart attack.

One official said they expected the total balloting Saturday to touch “impressive figures” as in the last six phases. The staggered polling in the sprawling state began Feb 8.

Among the high voting areas were Moradabad, Rampur, Pilibhit and Lakhimpur Kheri. The other districts are Bijnore, Bhimnagar, J.P. Nagar, Badaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur.

A total of 18.2 million voters are to decide the fate of 962 candidates, including 100 women, Saturday.

As earlier, the main contest is between the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the BJP, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.

Security was tight at all 18,957 polling stations, located mostly in school buildings.

The constituencies with most number of candidates are Bithari Chainpur and Bareilly Cantt (27 each) while Gunnaur (Badaun) has only seven candidates.

The millions of votes cast in Uttar Pradesh will be counted March 6 along with the votes polled in Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa.

Although elections took place in five states, most interest nationally is on Uttar Pradesh, where the ruling BSP is facing an opposition determined to unseat it.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi extensively campaigned all across the state in a desperate bid to put his party back on the rails in a state where it has been out of power since 1989.

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