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Peaceful polling in UP, young Lucknow voters queue up

Lucknow(IANS): Polling proceeded peacefully in 56 constituencies that voted in the fourth round of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections Sunday, with young voters turning up in large numbers in state capital Lucknow.

An 18 percent turnout was recorded in the first four hours across 11 districts, election officials said. Voting began at 7 a.m. The morning chill initially kept many voters in the confines of their homes, but picked up as the day progressed. As many as 967 candidates are in the fray in this phase.

“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.

Long queues could be seen 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.

Around 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.

In Lucknow, around 18 percent turnout was recorded till 11 a.m. Sunday, election officials said adding they expected the numbers to be higher this time compared to the 36.7 percent in the last assembly elections in 2007.

“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 across the state.

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 round of the seven-phased 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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