Uttar Pradesh polls: Under 60% turnout in phase 5

LUCKNOW FEB 28,
The 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election recorded its lowest turnout thus far, with the average provisional voting (till 5 p.m.) in the fifth phase on Monday settling at 57.36%. This was still a marginal increase from the previous elections. In 2012, the districts that went to the poll on Monday had recorded 57.09% voting. The figure for the 2014 Lok Sabha election was 55.5%.
In the first four phases, covering the entire stretch of west U.P., Rohilkhand, Braj, parts of Awadh and Terai, and the whole of Bundelkhand, the voting percentages were 64.2, 65.5, 61.16 and 61.
In the fifth phase, elections were held to 51 seats spread across 12 districts — Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Bahraich, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi, Sultanpur and Barabanki.
The ruling Samajwadi Party had won 37 of the 51 seats in the previous elections. Its ally, the Congress, and the BJP won five each. The BSP could only win three.
The phase included key political constituencies such as Ayodhya-Faizabad, Sultanpur and Amethi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency.
Locking horns
Both the SP and the Congress had fielded candidates in Amethi as the two parties could not come to an agreement. Tainted former SP Minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, against whom the Supreme Court had ordered filing of charges of gang rape a few days ago, is battling Garima Sinh of the BJP and Amita Sinh of the Congress in this constituency. Ms. Amita is the wife of senior Congress leader Sanjay Sinh and Ms. Garima is his estranged first wife. Amethi recorded a voting percentage of 57, an increase of two per cent from 2012.
The SP and Congress are also locked in a friendly fight in Gauriganj. In all, the Congress has fielded candidates in 14 seats in this phase and is pitted against the SP in half of them. The BSP fielded candidates in all the seats. The BJP is fighting in 50, having left one to its ally Apna Dal. The SP is fighting in 43 and the RLD in 31.
The turnout in Ayodhya increased marginally — from 60.24 to 60.7 — while there was a sharp drop overall in Sultanpur and Faizabad districts. If Sultanpur’s vote percentage fell from 68.60 to 56.53, the figure in Faizabad went down from 69.61 to 60.1. Balrampur district, however, witnessed an increase — from 49% to 54.24%.
Other important seats in this phase are Akbarpur (BSP State president Ram Achal Rajbhar is in the fray) and Itwa (where Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey is contesting). Itwa recorded less than 50% polling.

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