'48-50pc voters cast ballot in phase III of UP polls'

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Lucknow, Apr 18: An estimated 48 to 50 per cent of the 1.5 crore voters today used their franchise in a by and large peaceful third phase of assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.

A total of 57 constituencies spread over 10 districts had gone to polls during phase three.

State additional chief electoral officer (CEO) Devesh Chaturvedi said the polling percentage was likely to be around 48 to 50 per cent, more than the voting percentage in the previous two phases which recorded around 46 per cent.

By and large peaceful election was marred by the death of an Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF) jawan in Amroha in a case of accidental fire. Police said Madan Mohan reportedly died of self-inflicted wounds when his automatic weapon went off accidentally.

In Pilibhit and Shahjahanpur districts, a heavy downpour in the afternoon prevented voters from coming out in large numbers. ''But after 1500 hrs, the voter turn out was heavy across all constituencies,'' said a police official here.

Polling passed off peacefully with no untoward incident reported from anywhere.

Mr Chaturvedi told UNI here that till 1500 hrs, the official poll percentage was 38 per cent.

He said the polling was peaceful except for some preliminary teething trouble reported from several places due to non-functioning of the Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs).

''These machines were replaced immediately,'' he said.

Polling took place at 14884 polling booths. Meanwhile, a report from Farrukhabad said state Congress president Salman Khurshid and his wife and party candidate from Kayamganj seat Louis Khurshid could not vote as their names were missing from the electoral rolls. District authorities have directed the officials to investigate the matter.

In Rampur, senior Congress leader and former MP Noor Bano and state urban development minister Mohammad Azam Khan exercised their franchise.

In Gunnaur assembly constituency, from where chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was contesting, the polling was peaceful but the turnout was low.

Till 1500 hrs, Gunnaur recorded only 23 per cent polling whereas in the bypolls held in 2003 to elect Mr Yadav, there was a record voting of 90 per cent.

Encouraged by the violence-free polling in Phase-I on April 7 and Phase-II on April 13, the EC had further tightened security arrangements for polling in the third phase in communally sensitive Moradabad, Rampur and Bijnor districts of the state.

Security forces conducted flag march while the international border with Nepal in Pilibhit and inter-state borders were sealed.

Central Para Military Forces were deployed at all polling booths and sensitive areas to ensure free and fair polling.

Deputy Election Commissioner J P Prakash kept a constant vigil in the sensitive areas using a helicopter while each of the 57 constituencies has been provided with one additional central observer to monitor the polling.

More than 660 companies of central para military forces, along with 60,000 state police were deployed for polling in this phase which include several communally sensitive districts like Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur, Bijnor, Sambhal and Bareilly.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (Gunnaur), deputy speaker of the state legislative assembly Rajesh Agarwal of BJP (Bareilly city), state Urban Development minister Mohammad Azam Khan (Rampur) are among the 861 candidates whose fate have been sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs) today.


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