10.9 per cent votes have been cast in the first two hours of polling for the 69 Assembly constituencies that figure in the crucial phase-III of the staggered Uttar Pradesh elections.
“In the first two hours, 10.9 per cent votes have been cast,” Office of UP Chief Electoral Officer said.
Besides BSP surpemo Mayawati, Home Minister Rajnath Singh with his family cast their votes in Lucknow while Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav voted in Saifai (Etawah).
Singh’s Lok Sabha constituency Lucknow, and SP strongholds Kannauj, Mainpuri and Etawah, figure in this round.
Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur, Unnao, Barabanki and Sitapur are among the 12 districts where these Assembly seats are spread across.
Etawah is the native place of SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, while another key district is Mainpuri, from where Tej Pratap Yadav is an SP MP. From Kannauj Dimple Yadav, wife of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is MP.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, SP had won 55 of these 69 seats, while BSP, BJP and Congress secured just six, five and two respectively. One seat went to an Independent.
The fate of 826 candidates in this phase will be decided by 2.41 crore voters, including 1.10 crore women and 1,026 belonging to third gender category.
In this phase, the maximum number of 4,98,573 voters are in Sarojini Nagar seat of Lucknow, while the minimum of 2,72,294 voters are in Sisamau.
While the highest number of 21 candidates are in Etawah, minimum of three candidates are in Haidergarh (Barabanki).
Lucknow West and Central have 17 candidates each.
There will be 25,603 polling booths in this phase. For free and fair polling, the Election Commission has appointed 4,609 micro-observers and 61 general observers and deployed over 83,000 personnel of central para-military forces.
Besides this, 9,119 sub-inspectors of police, 3,357 head constables, 58,789 constables and 58,025 homeguards of state police are on duty today.
There are 1,707 sector magistrates, 200 zonal and 271 static magistrates to to ensure peace.
Prominent among those whose prestige is at stake are Nitin Agarwal, son of SP leader Naresh Agarwal, BSP turncoat Brijesh Pathak from Lucknow (Central) on BJP ticket and Congress turncoat Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Lucknow Cantt, who is pitted against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna.
SP leader Shivpal too is a key figure in this round. He is contesting from Jaswant Nagar seat.
Congress leader P L Punia’s son Tanuj Punia is trying his luck from Jaidpur seat in Barabanki.
In 2012 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the turnout in these areas was 59.96 per cent and 58.43 per cent respectively.
The next four phases of polling will be held on February 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes will take place on March 11.