Around 57.25 per cent voters cast their votes in the third phase of polling held in 56 Assembly constituencies of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. Significantly,maximum polling was reported from Naxal-affected districts of Chandauli (62.5 per cent) and Mirzapur (62.4 per cent). Another Naxal-affected district Sonbhadra polled 58.25 per cent votes.
Todays voting was also higher than the second phase in which 55.6 per cent voters had exercised their franchise.
Terming the latest poll figure as overwhelming,UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said the poll percentage in the third phase was higher than the 2007 Assembly polls when 42.56 per cent voters had exercised their franchise.
Sinha said around 68.34 lakh voters had voted in 2007 while in the current elections,1.03 crore voters cast their ballot.
Among the Assembly constituencies,maximum polling was reported from Handia (68 per cent) in Allahabad,Sakaldiha (67 per cent) in Chandauli,Marihan (67 per cent) in Mirzapur and Pratappur (65 per cent) in Allahabad. Lowest polling was reported from Allahabad South (48 per cent) and Allahabad North (48 per cent). CEO said minimum polling in 2007 elections was reported from Allahabad North (24 per cent).
The polling,which began on a sluggish note at 18,374 booths spread over the 10 districts,picked up as the day progressed. Moreover,there were no reports of any untoward incident.
The sleepy Allahabad City (North) constituency also exceeded its performance this year. In 2007,only 24 per cent of the electorate exercised had their franchise in the constituency,which was among the worst performers in the state.
By afternoon,the poll percentage in Allahabad (North),home to the citys intellectual class,government employees and university staff,had crossed 41 per cent. In Allahabad district,it had overstepped 45 per cent. The hike in the poll percentage can be credited to the awareness campaigns launched by the Election Commission to mobilise the voters,particularly the youths.
The concern of the polling officials to ensure that more and more people exercised their rights could be gauged from the way they reacted to slow polling at a polling station in Allahabad (North) constituency. In the first couple of hours of voting,a booth at Umrao Singh College polling station in Mumfordganj,had recorded barely four per cent poll. The poll observer,along with his team of officials,reached the station and began enquiries as why it was so slow when most other areas had already clocked well over 10 per cent turnout. The booth level officers were questioned if they had gone door-to-door with the voter slips or not.
Apart from the awareness campaigns,what seemed to have worked was the ease in casting votes. With booth level officers (BLOs) bringing voting slips to their houses,voters did not have to figure out their names in the voting lists at the polling booths. Even police and other officials are not stopping us unnecessarily. Voting wasnt this easy earlier, said one Uday Kumar Singh. There were complaints about EVMs not functioning properly at a couple of places,but the hiccups were minor in nature. The polling was also brisk in Amethi and Rae Bareli areas,the pocketboroughs of Nehru-Gandhi family.
A total of 1,018 candidates,including 77 women,are in the fray in this phase. Around 31,000 EVMs were used at 18,374 polling stations including 2000 sensitive and 1766 high-sensitive polling stations.