Lucknow: Over 60 per cent of the 1.41 crore voters today exercised their franchise in the seventh and last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls in 40 seats, bringing down the curtain on a gruelling two-month-long process.
"60.03 per cent votes were polled till 5 PM," Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh said. The turnout for these seats was 57.92 per cent in the last Assembly polls in 2012.
The average turnout in the seven phases of polling that began on February 11 has been around 60-61 per cent compared to 59.48 per cent in 2012.The poll percentage in the first phase was 64.22, in the second 65.16, third phase 61.16, fourth phase 60.37, fifth phase 57.37 and sixth phase 57.03.
Today's exercise passed off by and large peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from the three constituencies in the Naxal-affected districts of Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli. Poll percentage in these areas was Chakia 59, Duddhi 62 and Robertsganj 58.
All eyes were on the Assembly segments in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, where the turnout was 60.95 per cent till 5 PM. Polling started amidst tight security arrangements in seven districts this morning and gained momentum as the day advanced. Ghazipur, Jaunpur and Bhadoi are the other districts where polling was held. Voting concluded at 5 PM in all constituencies, barring the Naxal-hit areas where it ended at 4 PM. In Jaunpur, BJP candidate from Jafarabad seat Harendra Pratap Singh and four others were arrested for allegedly taking voters to polling booths in two vehicles. Singh, however, denied the charge. The counting of votes in UP will be taken up on March 11, along with four other states -- Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, where Assembly polls were held.
Among the voters in this phase polling in UP, 64.76 lakh were women.
14,458 polling booths were set up for today's exercise which will decide the fate of 585 candidates, including 51 women. The BJP contested 32 seats and its allies - the Apna Dal and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party - fought in four seats each. The BSP fielded its nominees for all seats.
While the SP contested 31 seats, its ally the Congress is in the race for the remaining seats. In the 2012 polls, out of these 40 seats, 23 went to the SP, 5 to the BSP, 4 to the BJP, 3 to the Congress and 5 to others. In all, 535 candidates, including BSP (40), BJP (32), SP (31), Congress (9), RLD 21, and NCP (5) were in the fray. While the maximum number of 24 candidates was from Varanasi Cantt seat, the minimum number of 6 candidates was contesting from Kerakat (SC). Prominent candidates who were in fray include former cabinet minister Om Prakash, Parasnath Yadav, Ajay Rai, former MP Dhananjay Singh, Sigbatullah Ansari, brother of Mukhtar Ansari, and Seema Singh, wife of jailed mafia Munna Bajrangi.