61% voting in UP fourth phase polls

Lucknow/New Delhi: Over 61 per cent voters exercised their franchise on Thursday across 53 seats in the fourth phase elections to the Uttar Pradesh assembly.The voting percentage is likely to go up. "The voting percentage was 61 per cent till 5 pm. We hope it will go up to 63 per cent," Deputy Election Commissioner Vijay Dev told reporters in New Delhi. The seats that went to the polls were spread across the Bundelkhand region apart from districts of Allahabad, Koshambi, Pratapgarh and Rae Bareli. Vijay Dev said the seats had seen 59.9 per cent polling in the 2012 assembly polls and 57.1 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He said the Election Commission had recovered Rs 13.49 crore in cash and liquor worth Rs 8.17 crore in the run up to the polling in the fourth phase. The voting was slow in the morning but picked up pace as the day progressed. Other places which saw brisk or high voting included Mahoba, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Lalitpur and Rae Bareli, the Lok Sabha seat of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.Skirmishes had erupted in Pratapgarh between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) activists and in Mahoba between workers of the ruling Samajwadi Party and the BSP.Samajwadi Party candidate Siddha Gopal Sahu's son was shot and seriously injured at Mahoba. In Bundelkhand region, people boycotted polling in some villages.Electronic Voting Machines developed snags in at least a dozen places, disrupting balloting.Residents of some villages boycotted the polls to protest lack of development and basic amenities.Among those who cast their vote were West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, BJP state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti.The main contest was between the BSP, the BJP and Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance. While the Bahujan Samaj Party contested on all 53 seats, the BJP contested 48 seats and Rashtriya Lok Dal 39. The Samajwadi Party contested 33 and Congress 25. Samajwadi Party had done well in these constituencies in 2012 election, winning 24 of 53 seats. The Congress had won six seats in the last polls while the BSP had won 15, BJP five and Peace Party three. Over 1.84 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the election. As many as 680 candidates were in the fray including the maximum 26 from the Allahabad North constituency. There were 61 women candidates. Prominent candidates whose electoral fate was decided on Thursday included Utkarsha Mishra, son of former Leader of Opposition in the outgoing assembly Swamy Prasad Maurya; Independent Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiyya; Aradhna Mishra, daughter of Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari; and Ujjwal Raman Singh, son of senior Samajwadi Party leader, Reoti Raman Singh.Sonia Gandhi, who has not campaigned for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls this time due to ill health, on Thursday made an appeal to the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli through a video message to vote for the Congress.Her message came a day after she sent out an appeal to voters in a letter.Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a seven-phased election to 402 of 403 seats (election on one seat has been countermanded) which will conclude on March 8. IANS