East Uttar Pradesh’s 53 constituencies including the backward Bundelkhand region went to polls on Thursday.
Over 61 per cent of 1.84 crore voters exercised their franchise between 7 am and 5 pm on Thursday.
Polling, which was spread across 12 districts, was by and large peaceful owing to the tight security arrangements, officials said.
Inter-district and inter-state borders were sealed and patrolling by security forces was intensified in all polling areas. Not just that, most of the sensitive polling centres were being manned by the personnel of Central Paramilitary Forces, polling officers said.
680 candidates were in the fray in this phase which covers Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Fatehpur districts.
Even though the pace of voting was slow in the first few hours, it picked up as the day progressed. Only 12 to 15 per cent polling was recorded in the first three hours.
Seven of these 12 districts form the drought hit – Bundelkhand region, an area also known for poverty and backwardness. The current phase also contains the constituencies in Gandhi bastion- Rae Bareli.
BSP has fielded its nominees in all seats, while BJP’s nominees are contesting from 48 constituencies. BJP has left 6 seats for its ally Apna Dal. Samajwadi Party nominees are contesting from 30 seats and its ally, the Congress is contesting from 25 constituencies.
Prominent contestants in this phase include sitting MLA Aradhana Mishra from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh), the daughter of Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, and Independent MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is again contesting from his traditional Kunda (Pratapgarh) seat.
In Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh is contesting on Congress ticket, BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya’s son Utkarsh Maurya is in fray from Unchahar seat, while Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar is contesting from Naraini (Banda) seat.
Senior SP leader Reoti Raman Singh’s son Ujjwal Raman Singh is in the race from Karchana (Allahabad) seat.
In 2012 Assembly polls, of the 53 seats in this phase, the Samajwadi Party had won 24, BJP 5, the Bahujan Samaj Party 15. The Congress got 6 and others totalled just 3.
However, in the 2014 parliamentary elections, the region voted for the BJP expecting a generous grant from the Centre.
Elections for the UP legislative Assembly are being held in seven phases, with three more on February 27, March 4 and 8 to follow after today’s polling. Results will be out on March 11.
(With inputs from PTI)