Lucknow: Nearly 59 percent of 1.92 crore voters today exercised their franchise for 59 seats spread over nine districts in the by-and-large peaceful second phase of the fiercely-fought Uttar Pradesh assembly election.

The fate of 1,098 candidates, including two state party chiefs, 31 MLAs and 24 former ministers was sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines in today’s exercise.

Polling for the second round, in which 59 assembly seats were up for grabs, was generally peaceful in Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Azamgarh, Mau, Ballia and Ghazipur districts.

“An estimated 59 percent electorate cast votes in the second round,” state Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told reporters here. “The polling was generally peaceful,” he said adding Kushinagar district recorded the highest 63 percent voting and Deoriya and Ballia 54 percent each, the lowest, in round two.

Ruling BSP, Congress, SP and BJP pulled out all the stops to woo voters in the no-holds-barred fight for the 403-seat House in the politically-crucial state.

The first phase had recorded around 63 percent polling in 55 constituencies in nine districts.

In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla said “these constituencies witnessed a turnout of 43.41 percent in the 2007 assembly election.”

Residents of village Chacheri in Khalilabad constituency in Sant Kabir Nagar district boycotted the polling protesting lack of development in their area, Shukla said.

Polling began amid tight security on a dull note but picked up as the day advanced. Barring a couple of incidents, the polling passed off peacefully, state CEO and police said.

In Dakshin Tola area in Mau district, police used force to disperse voters who indulged in unruly behaviour outside a polling station. Police also used force in Mahaveer Akhara hamlet in Rasra area in Ballia district after some locals indulged in slogan-shouting.

Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar, Revenue minister Phagu Chauhan, BSP state chief and Cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya and state BJP head Surya Pratap Shahi were among the notable candidates whose fate was sealed in the EVMs.

 

The Speaker contested from newly-created Deedarganj seat in Azamgarh district as a BSP candidate while SP Deputy Leader in the House Ambika Chaudhary tried his luck from Phephna in Ballia.

Maurya staked his political fortunes from Padrauna in Kushinagar and Shahi from newly-created Pathardeva seat in Deoria district. Chauhan threw his hat in the ring from Ghosi seat in Mau district.

Former Forest Minister Fateh Bahadur Singh, sacked and denied ticket by Chief Minister Mayawati, sought people’s mandate from Kampiarganj on the NCP ticket.

Naresh Yadav, son of MP Governor Ram Naresh Yadav, crossed swords with BJP candidate Yogendra Yadav, nephew of MP Ramakant Yadav, as Congress nominee from Phoolpur seat in Azamgarh district.

Aman Tripathi, son of SP MLA Amarmani Tripathi, facing jail term in poetess Madhumita murder case, contested the Nautanwa seat in Maharajganj district.

Independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari, facing several criminal charges, fought from two seats Mau and Ghosi and is the candidate of his brother Afzal Ansari’s party Kaumi Ekta Dal.

Rahul Gandhi, the key Congress campaigner, criss-crossed several districts to garner support for his party candidates. The Congress had romped home in 2007 only two constituencies out of 59.