60 per cent turnout in 6th phase of UP poll

The high stakes battle for power in Uttar Pradesh entered the last lap on Tuesday with 60 per cent peaceful voting in the sixth and penultimate round of the assembly elections that end next week.

The turnout among the 2.11 crore voters was in keeping with the high percentage in the last five rounds. Polling in 68 constituencies across 13 districts in western Uttar Pradesh had begun at 7 am and ended at 5 pm.

"Today appears to be more like the first phase when polling crossed the 60 per cent mark", chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha told IANS at the close of balloting.

"The highest turnout was reported from Saharanpur district, where it touched nearly 65 per cent, while the lowest was reported from Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida) at about 56 per cent," he added.

In Agra too, there was high voting with the polling percentage crossing 51 per cent at 3 pm, two hours before polling ended.

The fate of 1,103 candidates was sealed in some 30,000 electronic voting machines installed at 21,317 polling stations across the districts of Saharanpur, Prabudh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat. Ghaziabad, Gautam Buidh Nagar, Panchseel Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura and Agra.
Though the belt is notorious for its feudal traditions, this phase had 9,391,585 women listed as voters, the highest, besides 712 eunuchs.

Among the candidates testing their luck in the sixth phase was Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh's son Jayant Chaudhury.

The impact of the Congress-RLD combine on the Jat and the Muslim voters, who dominate large parts of the 13 districts, was on test. While the Samajwadi Party (SP) vied desperately for the Muslim vote, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) tried hard to retain its chunk of 35 seats won in 2007.

Counting of votes for this high stakes battle will be done March 6.

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