Polling slow in Uttar Pradesh, 7.5 percent turnout in first two hours (Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 11:59 am ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Lucknow, April 30 (IANS) Polling in 15 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 Lok Sabha constituencies was slow in the third of India’s five-phase parliamentary elections Thursday, with only an average 7.5 percent voter turnout recorded in the first two hours.
“The lowest turnout was reported from Mohanlalganj (rural Lucknow) where only five percent of the voters came out to exercise their right to franchise, while the highest turnout was reported in Sitapur and Misrikh where 10 percent polling was reported between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.,” a senior election official told IANS here.

Rae Bareli, where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is seeking re-election, registered a turnout of eight percent while in the state capital here, it stood at seven percent.

According to initial reports, people were seen heading to the polling booths as soon as they opened at 7 a.m. Rural voters in Lucknow district had seemed more more enthusiastic than their urban counterparts as the polling booths in Mohanlalganj constituency witnessed a good turnout initially.

“We are here since 7 a.m. and the rural voters are turning up in large numbers to vote. We think people want to cast their vote before the temperature goes up,” inspector Kalyan Singh, manning a booth near the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute (SGPGI) said.

Voter turnout in the state capital, however, was a bit low.

“The shops are closed, the traffic is restricted but the people are not yet coming out to vote,” said inspector Rajiv Singh, patrolling outside a booth in the posh Aliganj area here.

Lucknow, regarded the political bastion of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who represented it for five consecutive terms, is seeing a four-cornered contest this time among Vajpayee’s protege Lalji Tandon of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Akhilesh Das of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the Congress and Nafisa Ali of the Samajwadi Party (SP).

In all, 22.3 million voters are eligible to vote Thursday to decide the fate of 256 candidates, including 22 women.

The giant exercise is being carried out by over 100,000 officials and 65,000 security personnel across the 15 constituencies stretching from the Nepal border in the north to the Madhya Pradesh border in the south.

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