The third round of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections ended on a peaceful note Wednesday with an estimated 57-58 percent of the 1.77 crore electorate in 56 constituencies exercising their franchise, officials said.
Polling in the 56 assembly constituencies began at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told IANS that the turnout was an estimated 57-58 percent at the end of day, far higher than the 42.6 percent turnout in the last assembly elections in 2007. While the first phase saw a turnout of 62 percent, the second was also high at 59 percent.
Elections were held in the high-profile districts of Amethi (rechristened Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar), the parliamentary seat of Congress star campaigner Rahul Gandhi, as well as Sultanpur, the other Gandhi family bastion, and the traditional Nehru-Gandhi home Allahabad.
Among the other districts that went to the polls were Varanasi, Jaunpur, Mirzapur, Bhadohi (renamed Sant Ravidas Nagar), Kaushambhi, Sonbhadra and Chandauli – most of which are situated along the banks of the Ganga river.
The fate of 1,018 candidates vying for the 56 seats at stake was determined by 1.77 crore voters at 18,374 polling stations, where 31,400 electronic voting machines were in place.
Long queues were reported from most of the places, including Amethi, where people were seen making a beeline for polling booths well before 7 a.m.
The voter turnout was, however, stated to be relatively low in some areas like Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonbhadra, bordering Madhya Pradesh, where Maoists have a considerable presence.
Besides Maoists, the presence of a number of candidates with criminal backgrounds had prompted the Election Commission to deploy additional police force in the sensitive areas.
Nearly 31 percent of candidates fielded by political parties for the third phase had criminal cases pending against them.
According to a report of the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, all political parties were guilty.
Samajwadi Party (SP) topped the list with 24 of its 48 nominees having several criminal cases pending against them. The Congress party had 14 of 48, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had 13 of 47, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 12 of 49, Janata Dal-United six of 24, Bundelkhand Congress four of 13, Peace Party two of 12 and Apna Dal had one of six with a criminal background.
The seven-phase elections began Feb 8 and end March 3. The votes will be counted March 6.
Cop’s front-rolls: No contempt case against official
Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Seju P. Kuruvilla for ordering a constable to do front-rolls in the Patiala House court complex as a punishment Feb 7.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R.S. Endlaw said: “We are of the opinion that prima facie it is not a contempt of court act, and we are not inclined to initiate any criminal contempt proceedings.”
The court was critical of the punishment given to constable Dinesh Kumar, who is in his 30s. “It is inhuman in nature. Furthermore, awarding such punishment in court was not appropriate.”
The court disposed of a lawyer’s plea seeking contempt proceedings against Kuruvilla and asked the city police commissioner to look into the matter. It also directed the officer not to give such inhuman punishment to his subordinates in future.
Kuruvilla Feb 7 allegedly scolded Dinesh Kumar for talking on his cell phone and not frisking people who were entering the court complex while he was on duty, and as a punishment made him do front-rolls within the court complex.
The court also slammed the constable for not performing his duty in the high security area in central Delhi.
Advocate M.S. Vinayak, appearing for Kuruvilla, told the court that the front-rolls were a common practice and part of policemen’s drills.
“It is a minor and normal punishment, it is a part of fitness training and drill.” Lawyer R.K. Saini had sought initiation of criminal contempt proceeding against Kuruvilla for scandalising the court and its proceedings.