Voting ended on Thursday evening in the fourth phase of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh covering 53 seats in 12 districts with a large turnout out of the one crore electorate.
With Thursday’s round, polling in 262 of the 403 constituencies spread across western and central Uttar Pradesh as well as Bundelkhand region has been held. Three more rounds of voting are due.
After a slow start, balloting picked up rapidly everywhere, Election Commission officials said.
A total of 680 candidates were in the fray, including 61 women. But the main battle was between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance.
Huge polling was reported from districts in Bundelkhand region – Mahoba, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Hamirpur, Banda, Jalaun and Lalitpur where people stood in serpentine queues to vote.
But residents of some villages boycotted the polls to protest lack of development and basic amenities.
Balloting in Rae Bareli, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was brisk through the day.
Prominent among those who voted in the fourth phase were West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti, BJP state chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari and his daughter Aradhna Mishra, the party candidate from Rampur Khas in Pratapgarh.
Officials reported long queues of men and women voters in Fatehpur, the Lok Sabha constituency of Niranjan Jyoti.
Polling was by and large peaceful.
Skirmishes erupted in Pratapgarh between BJP and 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.
The Electronic Voting Machines developed snags in at least a dozen places, disrupting the election process.
The fourth phase is especially significant for the Congress as it won only six seats from among these constituencies in 2012.
This time, the Congress has struck an alliance with the Samajwadi Party — the two parties are contesting 298 and 105 seats each.
The seven-phase Uttar Pradesh election began on February 11 and will end on March 8. The results from the state as also Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur will be known on March 11.