Smooth and steady polling underway in Uttar Pradesh


Lucknow : Steady polling was underway in eastern Uttar Pradesh Tuesday, the last day of the seven-phased elections that began more than a month ago on April 7.

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Election officials said the going was smooth, with 6.8 percent polling recorded in the first two hours.

As many as 934 contestants are in the fray for 59 assembly constituencies that go to the polls across the nine districts of Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Mau, Azamgarh and Ballia.

With as many as 17.8 million voters expected to cast their votes in this round across 16,804 polling stations, equipped with 19,400 electronic voting machines, the final phase is regarded as the biggest poll exercise since the first phase on April 7.

It signals an end to the longest election ever held in country.

Security deployment is also the maximum this time.

"In all, we have spread out nearly 125,000 security personnel across the vast area," state chief election officer A.K. Bishnoi told IANS.

"We have sealed the inter-state borders with Bihar as well as the international border with Nepal with effect from Sunday evening itself to prevent infiltration by undesirable elements."

According to a study carried out by Election Watch, an NGO headed by former state director general of police I.C. Dwivedi, as many as 162 of the 934 contestants face criminal charges.

Of these, 87 belonged to major political parties. The ruling Samajwadi Party tops the list with 32 tainted candidates, followed by 19 of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Apna Dal combine, Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) 20 and Congress party's 16.

The round is very crucial for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) that had led the tally at the last state assembly election in 2002, when it bagged 21 of these 59 seats. It was followed by BSP's 17, BJP's 11 and Congress' four seats. The remaining six seats were won by smaller political outfits and independents.