Voting picks up in UP after slow start (Second Lead)

February 19th, 2012 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow, Feb 19 (IANS) The morning chill initially kept many voters in the confines of their homes in Uttar Pradesh, but picked up as the day progressed Sunday when the fourth round of seven-phased assembly elections was held in 56 constituencies.

Only 8.7 percent turnout was recorded till 9 a.m., election officials said.

“With a bright sun now, polling has already started picking up in most places and I am quite sure, it will go above the 42 percent from the last state assembly election in 2007,” Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha told IANS.

Voting began at 7 a.m. Gradually, long queues started forming at polling centres, not only in the older parts of the city but in modern Lucknow as well. The youth, particularly, appeared to be coming out in large numbers to vote.

As many as 1.72 crore voters are eligible to elect their representatives spread across 11 districts — Lucknow, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli , Chattrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar (Amethi), Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Banda, Chitrakoot, Fatehpur and Pratapgarh.

Asked about the turnout in Lucknow, where it was as low as 36.7 percent in the last assembly elections in 2007, Sinha said, “As of now, it stands at eight percent, but like the rest of the state it is bound to get brisk through the day,” he said.

“The efforts carried out by the election commission to promote voting will definitely show positive results and I will not be surprised if Lucknow’s turnout gets to a high record.”

As many as 18,000 polling stations have been set up.

This phase has as many as 103 candidates with criminal cases pending against them.

About 139 multi-millionaires (’crorepatis’) are also in the fray in the fourth phase, that would test the fate of several political heavyweights, including three ministers, 32 sitting legislators and 12 former ministers.

However, it would be an acid test for the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which had the maximum at stake, since the party had bagged 25 of these 56 seats in 2007.

Samajwadi Party was also not far too behind with a tally of 14, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress had bagged seven seats each in the last assembly election. Two seats had gone to independents, while two new constituencies came up on account of delimitation of seats.

The fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh state assembly election also draws significance from the fact the three of India’s prime ministers were elected from here. These include Rajiv Gandhi, who repeatedly romped home from Amethi, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who was elected from Fatehpur and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who made Lucknow his political abode.

Polling ends at 5 p.m.

The last phase of the election to the 403 member assembly in India’s most populous and politically crucial state will be held March 3 and votes counted March 6.

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