The first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday recorded 62 per cent voter turnout,and if the trend continues in the remaining four phases,it could well be highest in the state since Independence,poll officials said. The officials said the polling figure for 55 Assembly constituencies spread over 10 districts was tentative and the actual figure could go up to 65 per cent when all the data was received late in the night.
UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said in Lucknow this was the first time in the states history that polling percentage crossed the 60 per cent mark. He said intermittent rain affected the turnout at some places and had the weather been fine,the turnout could have been around 70 per cent.
The poll percentage was around 55 per cent in urban areas and around 65 per cent in rural areas. The Election Commission said that polling was absolutely incident-free and completely peaceful.
The 2007 assembly polls had recorded 46.6 per cent turnout and in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,it was 48 per cent. Uttar Pradesh has given difficult voter turnout in the past. There is going to be a significant turnaround this time. It is going to be participation revolution, said a senior Election Commission official in New Delhi.
Election Commission officials said that to ensure maximum participation of voters,the poll panel had reached out to schools and colleges and also to the civil society. A voter helpline (1950) was set up to help voters facing any difficulty. SMS services were started to help them identify their polling stations,addresses and their serial numbers at the polling booths.
Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said that the Election Commission was happy that its efforts are showing results. What are elections if voters dont come out to cast their votes? Our programme Systematic Voter Education for Electoral Participation is aimed at enrolling more voters,especially first-time voters,and encouraging them to vote. The huge increase in the number of voters who came out to vote in the first phase despite the heavy rainfall is a very good sign, he told The Indian Express.
In 2007,of the 55 constituencies that went to polls on Wednesday,the BSP had won 31,SP 18,BJP 4 and Congress 2. In 2009 Lok Sabha election,the Congress had put up a good performance in this region winning five Lok Sabha seats.
The first phase of polling will test Union Minister Beni Prasad Vermas hold on Kurmi votes; the Congress gave him a decisive say in the selection of candidates in this region. With two Dalit MPs from this region Punia and Kamal Kishore Commando Wednesdays polling would also test the Congresss ability to break Mayawatis grip on Dalit votebank.
The maximum voter turnout of 62 per cent was reported from Barabanki,Sitapur and Ambedkar Nagar districts. It was 61 per cent in Bahraich,60 each in Gonda and Faizabad,58 per cent in Balrampur and 59 per cent each in Siddharth Nagar,Shravasti and Basti.