A 61.16-per cent voter turnout was on Sunday recorded in the third phase of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh polls which concluded by and large peacefully. As many as 69 Assembly constituencies in the Yadav heartland, considered crucial for the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state, went to the polls in this phase.
“Turnout of voters was 61.16 per cent when polling drew to a close at 5 PM,” UP Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh said. He said the exercise was held by and large peacefully in this phase, adding that tight security arrangements were put in place at all the 25,603 polling booths.
In the 2012 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the turnout in these areas was 59.96 and 58.43 per cent respectively. The polling percentage was 64.2 in the first phase of the ongoing election and a little over 65 in the second phase.
Besides BSP supremo Mayawati, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh cast his vote along with his family members in Lucknow, while Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav voted in Saifai (Etawah).
Most of the leaders claimed that the parties they represent will form the next government in the state.
Mayawati, who cast her vote in the Mall Avenue area here, told reporters that BSP would win over 300 of the 403 seats.
“Unlike the Congress and BJP, I am not saying this without any basis. The way the people are attending my rallies, I can say that I am going to form the next government. The people of the state want change as they are fed up with the misrule and goonda raj of SP,” she said.
In a similar refrain, Singh, after casting his vote here, claimed that the BJP would secure an absolute majority in UP.
At Saifai, Akhilesh said, “The voters have made up their minds in favour of the SP-Congress alliance.”
Polling in this phase began slowly but picked up pace later. There were reports of minor skirmishes between the supporters of the candidates at some polling booths.
SP leader and Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Yadav complained that his supporters were attacked by the “political opponents” in his Jaswantnagar constituency.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, the SP had won 55 of these 69 seats, while the BSP, BJP and Congress had secured only six, five and two seats respectively. One seat was won by an Independent.
There were 826 candidates in the fray in the third phase whose fate will be decided by 2.41 crore voters, including 1.10 crore women and 1,026 people belonging to the ‘third gender’ category.