Lucknow, Feb 11: Nearly 59 per cent of 1.92 crore voters today exercised their franchise for 59 seats spread over nine districts in the by-and-large peaceful second phase of the fiercely-fought Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
The fate of 1,098 candidates, including two state party chiefs, 31 MLAs and 24 former ministers was sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines in today's exercise.
Polling for the second round, in which 59 assembly seats were up for grabs, was generally peaceful in Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh, Mau, Ballia and Ghazipur districts.
“An estimated 59 per cent electorate cast votes in the second round,” state Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told reporters here.
“The polling was generally peaceful,” he said adding Kushinagar district recorded the highest 63 per cent voting and Deoriya and Ballia 54 per cent each, the lowest, in round two.
Ruling BSP, Congress, SP and BJP pulled out all the stops to woo voters in the no-holds-barred fight for the 403-seat House in the politically-crucial state.
The first phase had recorded around 63 per cent polling in 55 constituencies in nine districts.
In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said “these constituencies witnessed a turnout of 43.41 per cent in the 2007 assembly election.”
He said a polling officer in Gorakhpur died after he suffered brain haemorrhage.
Residents of village Chacheri in Khalilabad constituency in Sant Kabir Nagar district boycotted the polling protesting lack of development in their area, Shukla said.
Polling began amid tight security on a dull note but picked up as the day advanced.
Barring a couple of incidents, the polling passed off peacefully, state CEO and police said.
In Dakshin Tola area in Mau district, police used force to disperse voters who indulged in unruly behaviour outside a polling station.
Police also used force in Mahaveer Akhara hamlet in Rasra area in Ballia district after some locals indulged in slogan-shouting.
Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar, Revenue minister Phagu Chauhan, BSP state chief and Cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya and state BJP head Surya Pratap Shahi were among the notable candidates whose fate was sealed in the EVMs.
The Speaker contested from newly-created Deedarganj seat in Azamgarh district as a BSP candidate while SP Deputy Leader in the House Ambika Chaudhary tried his luck from Phephna in Ballia.
Maurya staked his political fortunes from Padrauna in Kushinagar and Shahi from newly-created Pathardeva seat in Deoria district.
Chauhan threw his hat in the ring from Ghosi seat in Mau district.
Former Forest Minister Fateh Bahadur Singh, sacked and denied ticket by Chief Minister Mayawati, sought people's mandate from Kampiarganj on the NCP ticket.
Naresh Yadav, son of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, crossed swords with BJP candidate Yogendra Yadav, nephew of MP Ramakant Yadav, as Congress nominee from Phoolpur seat in Azamgarh district.
Aman Tripathi, son of SP MLA Amarmani Tripathi, facing jail term in poetess Madhumita murder case, contested the Nautanwa seat in Maharajganj district.
Independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari, facing several criminal charges, fought from two seats Mau and Ghosi and is the candidate of his brother Afzal Ansari's party Kaumi Ekta Dal.
The Bahujan Samaj Party secured 29 seats out of 59 in the 2007 Assembly election.
Rahul Gandhi, the key Congress campaigner, criss-crossed several districts to garner support for his party candidates.
The Congress had romped home in only two constituencies out of 59 which went to polls today in the last election.
Ghazipur witnessed 61 per cent polling, Azamgarh and Maharajganj 60 per cent each and Sant Kabir Nagar 56, the state Chief Electoral Officer said.
“As compared to the last election when 43.4 per cent votes were polled in these constituencies, there has been an increase of 36 per cent in the turnout this time,” he said.
Complaints of voters who were not able to exercise their franchise were receieved from Gorakhpur and Deoria districts, Sinha said adding these would be looked into.
At Hathiya booth in Azamgarh, over 1200 voters boycotted the election to protest what, they said, non-construction of a bridge.
In Ghazipur, more than 650 voters boycotted the polling in Matsar Mara village, falling under Jamania seat, to protest lack of development, the state CEO said.