Lucknow: The high stakes battle for power in Uttar Pradesh entered the last lap Tuesday with millions voting peacefully in the sixth and penultimate round of the Assembly elections that end next week.
At the end of the day, 60 percent of 2.11 crore voters had turned up to exercise their franchise - a score in keeping with the high voting 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.
In some places, at Saharanpur for instance, 64 percent of the electorate had cast their ballot, state chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha said.
In Agra too, there was high voting with the voting percentage crossing 51 percent at 3 p.m., two hours before polling ended. With a total turnout of just 42 percent in 2007, the discussion now centres around which political party would be the beneficiary of the voter enthusiasm.
Among the more than 1,000 candidates testing their luck in the sixth phase was Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh`s son Jayant Chaudhury.
While the elections were proceeding peacefully, there were some glitches as well. Key Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal was on his way to Goa but returned from the airport to vote from Ghaziabad only to find his name missing from the voters list.
The electoral exercise was held at 21,317 polling stations spread across the districts of Saharanpur, Prabudh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Panchseel Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura and Agra. The polling areas included Noida and Ghaziabad, adjoining the national capital.
Though the belt is notorious for its feudal traditions, this phase had 9,391,585 women listed as voters, the highest, besides 712 eunuchs.
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.
Four of the 13 districts witnessing the poll have a substantial Muslim population ranging between 25-39 percent, while the remaining nine districts have 18-22 percent Muslims.
Counting of votes for this high stakes battle will be done March 6.