Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi
Lucknow: Polling for 69 seats in the crucial third phase of Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, which will decide the fate of 826 candidates, concluded on Sunday evening with a provisional voting figure of 61.16 per cent.
The Election Commission (EC) officials, however, said the voting percentage may have topped 63 per cent by the end.
This phase of polling was most crucial for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), which has a challenge of retaining its supremacy in the area, as it had won 55 of the 69 seats in 2012.
By the end of the day, voting was 58.72 per cent in Mainpuri, 63 per cent in Etawah, 59.32 per cent in Auraiyya, 63.5 per cent in Hardoi, 61 per cent in Unnao and 60.70 per cent in Kanpur Rural.
Barabanki with 68.13 per cent polling was on top of the chart, followed by Sitapur with 68 per cent votes. Farukkhabad polled 61 per cent. Kanpur City witnessed a somewhat poor turnout with 56.4 per cent votes and the state capital Lucknow bettered its 2012 showing by one per cent to log 60 per cent voting.
Kannauj, the parliamentary constituency of Dimple Yadav, wife of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, polled 65.63 per cent, which is a little higher than its previous showings.
No major violence was reported from anywhere in the third phase, barring stone pelting on the motorcade of former PWD Minister and state SP chief Shivpal Singh Yadav and firing at Ganga Sahay College in Mainpuri.
In all, 2.12 lakh security personnel, including central forces, state police and homeguards, were deployed for the election duty in this round. There were 837 companies of central forces, an EC official told IANS.
Prominent political leaders, including union ministers Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra former Chief Ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, and incumbent Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav cast their votes in this round.
Four more phases of polling is yet to take place in the staggered seven-phased state elections that began on February 11.
Counting of votes will take place on March 11.