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Scuffles, firing mark phase three of polling in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: With day temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius, the third phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh saw above 58 percent voting in 12 constituencies in western-central parts of the state. By mid-day, about 37 percent polling had been recorded in all the seats while the turnout was highest in Agra at 41 percent. Agra recorded a polling percentage of 62 percent and Mainpuri 53 percent.

The constituencies covered in this phase were Etawah, Mainpuri, Firozabad, Kannauj, Etah, Hathras, Agra, Mathura, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbarpur, Farrukhabad and Hardoi. The constituencies are marked by the political influence of Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and for both, the result will determine what role they are likely to play in the post-poll scenario.

 Scuffles, firing mark phase three of polling in Uttar Pradesh

Voters in Uttar Pradesh queue up to cast their ballots. AFP

Minor incidents of stone-pelting, firing and scuffles between rival party supporters were reported from many constituencies throughout the day. Incidentally, the area has a long history of election-related violence especially in Yadav strongholds. Deep divides along caste lines and strong loyalty towards political families in this region had posed a challenge to the administration to complete the polling in a peaceful manner.

Election Commission sources said additional deployment of security forces was made to deal with the situation. The EC had identified nearly 5,000 booths as ‘critical’ where extra forces had been deployed. About 53,000 civil police personnel and 51,000 home guards were on the job in all the 12 constituencies.

In Kannauj, from where Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav is contesting, groups of supporters of the SP and the BJP reportedly clashed with each other following a complaint of bogus voting. Stone pelting and firing by both sides were also reported. Police and PAC were rushed to the area and the situation was brought under control. Polling was disrupted at the affected booths for some time and resumed soon thereafter.

Complaints of bogus voting was also reported from Firozabad, from where Mulayam’s nephew Akshay, son of Ram Gopal Yadav, is contesting. A BJP spokesman said the party had sent complaints of alleged rigging in many places to the Election Commission.

“Officials of the district administration and police were acting as the agents of the ruling party,” the spokesman said, adding that they had earlier also apprised the EC of their apprehension in this regard.

Even the Bahujan Samaj Party alleged that SP workers were intimidating voters and trying to rig the poll at many places. The BSP candidate from Mainpuri, Sanghmitra Maurya, is the daughter of senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya.

Reports of scuffles between rival groups were also received from Agra, Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri. Complaints of employees working to favour particular candidates or party were also received from these places.

Reports of polling boycott were received from some villages in Firozabad district and Auraiya district over lack of development and the failure of the police to deal with recent incidents of crime and abduction.

While Mulayam himself is contesting from Mainpuri, Ajit Singh’s son Jayant is locked in a battle with BJP’s Hema Malini in Mathura. Among the politicians who cast their votes early were chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, UP minister Shivpal Singh Yadav in Etawah, Union minister Salman Khurshid in Farukkhabad.

There are 188 candidates in the fray in all the 12 constituencies. Prominent contestants also include Amar Singh and BJP leader Kalyan Singh’s son Rajbir Singh.

The entire region is marked by poor development and civic infrastructure, water shortage and lack of employment opportunities. But instead of communal polarisation, voting is largely on caste and family loyalties. Development has never been an issue in past elections.

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2014 22:23:56 IST