Over 62 per cent of the votes were cast in the eight constituencies which went to the polls in Uttar Pradesh in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. State Congress chief Raj Babbar and actor-turned-politician Hema Malini (BJP) are among the 85 candidates in the fray in this phase.
The Election Commission put the overall voter turnout at 62.30 per cent for the eight seats at 6 pm, the closing time for polling.
However, people still in the queue at the polling centres then were being allowed to cast their vote, officials said.
According to the EC, the polling percentage till 6 pm was 62.10 in Nagina (SC), 68.77 in Amroha, 62.14 in Bulandshahr (SC), 61.25 in Hathras (SC), 59.60 in Agra (SC), 62.80 in Aligarh, 60.56 in Mathura, and 61.16 in Fatehpur Sikri.
There are 1.4 crore registered voters in these constituencies.
People boycotted the polls during the initial hours in Nagina constituency’s Gujjupura, protesting that there was no polling booth in their own village.
However, Bijnor district administration officials intervened, persuading them to cast their vote.
BJP MLA from Hasanpur in Amroha district, Mahendra Singh Khadagvanshi triggered a row, alleging that burqa-clad women were indulging in fake voting. The district administration, however, denied the charge.
Bulandshahr administration acted against BJP MP Bhola Singh after a video clip on social media showed him “seeking blessings” inside a polling booth.
“His movements were restricted till 4 pm and he was not allowed to move out from his house. He was seen seeking blessings from the people at a polling centre, which is a violation of the model code of conduct,” Bulandshahr District Magistrate Abhay Singh told PTI.
He said candidates can visit a polling booth but are not allowed to talk with the voters there.
When contacted UP Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwar Lu said, “We have sought a report from the district magistrate in this regard.”
Bhola Singh is among the five MPs renominated by the BJP over the eight seats, all of them won by the party in 2014.
This time the ruling party faces a tough fight from the opposition alliance forged in the state by the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance.
The BSP fielded candidates for six of the eight constituencies, leaving Hathras for the SP and Mathura for the RLD under the seat-sharing agreement.
In Mathura, Bollywood’s “dream girl” of yesteryears, Hema Malini, is seeking re-election. She faces RLD’s Kunwar Narendra Singh and Mahesh Pathak of the Congress.
State Congress president Raj Babbar faces BJP’s Rajkumar Chahar and BSP’s Shreebhagwan Sharma in Fatehpur Sikri. Sharma is a two-time MLA from Debai assembly constituency of Bulandshahr.
UP’s Animal Husbandry Minister S P Singh Baghel (BJP) is contesting against Preeta Harit of the Congress and Manoj Kumar Soni of the BSP in Agra.
In Amroha, sitting BJP MP Kanwar Singh Tanwar is fighting against Danish Ali, who recently joined the BSP after quitting as the general secretary of the Janata Dal-Secular.
The JD-S leadership had said that Danish Ali switched to the BSP with the consent of his parent party, which did not have a big presence in Uttar Pradesh.
Under their opposition alliance pact, the BSP is contesting 38 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the SP 37 and Ajit Singh’s RLD three.
The alliance has left two seats, Amethi and Rae Bareli, for the Congress.
After the first two phases, polling is now over for 16 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the politically crucial state.
The EC had set up 16,162 polling booths at 8,751 centres for Thursday’s polling.