More than 55 per cent voting was recorded in the sixth phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls on Thursday. The prominent faces among the 676 candidates for 57 seats spread across 10 districts in this phase included Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban and state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu from Tamkuhi Raj.
The Election Commission's app put the turnout at 55.56 per cent at 11.45 pm and the final tally is expected on Friday. The state home department's election control room had put the tentative turnout at 55.79 per cent. The Election Commission said that in 2017 assembly polls, the turnout was 56.52 per cent in these 57 seats and in 2012 it was 55.19 per cent.
With this phase, voting for 349 of the total 403 assembly seats has ended. The final phase of polling in the remaining 54 seats will be held on March 7. Around 2.15 crore people were eligible to vote in this phase. The voting started at 7 am and continued till 6 pm. The districts where polling was held on Thursday were Ambedkarnagar, Balrampur, Siddharth Nagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia. In the 2017 assembly polls, the BJP had won 46 of the 57 seats.
Till 5 pm there was about 53.31 per cent polling, according to the Election Commission of India's Turnout app. Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) BDR Tiwari said that polling was held peacefully in the state. According to data updated in the Election Commission's app at 11.45 pm, Ambedkarnagar recorded 62.22 per cent voting, Ballia 53.93 per cent, Balrampur 48.73 per cent, Basti 56.81 per cent, Deoria 54.60 per cent, Gorakhpur 56.23 per cent, Kushinagar 57.28 per cent, Mahrajganj 59.63 per cent, Sant Kabir Nagar 54.39 per cent, and Siddharth Nagar 50.19 per cent.
Those who cast their votes in the morning included Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi, Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chowdhury, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, minister Upendra Tiwari and former minister Narad Rai. Interacting with reporters after casting his vote, the chief minister said the BJP will get 80 per cent of the votes and the rest 20 per cent will get divided among the opposition.
The Samajwadi Party pitted the wife of the late Upendra Dutt Shukla, a former BJP leader, against Adityanath. Azad Samaj Party founder Chandrashekhar Azad also contested against the chief minister from the Gorakhpur seat. Swami Prasad Maurya, who was a minister in the Adityanath government and had quit the BJP to join the Samajwadi Party, contested from Fazilnagar, and Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly and Samajwadi Party leader Ram Govind Chaudhary from Bansdih.
The ministers whose electoral fortunes were sealed in the voting machines in this phase included Surya Pratap Shahi from Pathardeva, Satish Chandra Dwivedi from Itwa, Jai Pratap Singh from Bansi, Shree Ram Chauhan from Khajani and Jai Prakash Nishad from Rudrapur. The campaigning for this phase had witnessed the political parties going for an all-out attack against each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the BJP's rivals by tagging them as dynasts, who he claimed can never make India capable or empower Uttar Pradesh. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had rebutted Modi's attack, saying the BJP was only against her family, which did not bow down before it. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in his electioneering had accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy to end reservation and "sell" government entities to the private sector.
With PTI Inputs