UP polls: 59.4 pc turnout recorded in 5th phase

The fifth round of polling in Uttar Pradesh's seven-phased assembly elections in 49 constituencies on Thursday witnessed a 59.4 per cent turnout, an official said. Even as the polling remained low in Kanpur, the state's largest city, voters turned out in far larger numbers in smaller towns and rural areas.

As many as 829 candidates were in the fray for the 49 seats spread across 13 districts, with an electorate of 1.56 crore and where 17,267 polling centres were set up.

There was heavy police deployment for this phase of polling, which covered a large part of central UP, better known as the state's badlands. While Sinha remained tight-lipped on the numbers, sources confirmed that more than 800 companies of central paramilitary and state armed police (100-120 personnel each) were in place to ensure a smooth, free and fair poll.

Apart from Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's home district Etawah, the other districts which voted Thursday were Mainpuri, Firozabad, Etah, Auraiya, Rama Bai Nagar, Kanshi Ram Nagar, Kanpur, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Lalitpur, Mahoba and Jalaun.

This belt was an acid test for Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is believed to command a lot of influence over both Yadavs and other backward classes in the region. Likewise, the prestige of BJP star campaigner Uma Bharti is also at stake because she was specially brought in from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh in the hope of attracting the Lodhi backward caste community, which has a major presence in large parts of Bundelkhand districts that voted.

While Uma Bharti was in the fray from Charkhari in Hamirpur district, Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger brother Shivpal Yadav was contesting from the family bastion of Jaswant Nagar in Etawah.

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