Polling begins for UP third phase

Lucknow: Polling began today amidst tight security for the third phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections for 56 seats in 10 districts that will decide the fate of three cabinet ministers, a minister of state, 29 sitting MLAs and 14 former ministers.

"Voting began at 7 AM for the third phase of assembly elections and is continuing peacefully amidst tight security arrangements," Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told PTI.

More than 1.75 crore voters are expected to cast their votes to seal the fate of 1,018 candidates in the polling to be held in CSM Nagar, Sultanpur, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.

Fate of 1,018 candidates in 10 districts, including Amethi and Rae Bareli, bastion of Nehru-Gandhi family, and naxal infested districts Chandauli, Sonbhadra and Mirzapur would be decided in the third phase.

Sinha said that polling would end by 4 PM in naxal affected area of Chakia in Sonbhadra and Duddhi in Robertsganj of Sonbhadra.

In this phase, 2,025 polling stations have been identified as sensitive and 1,766 as hyper sensitive.

The CEO said that polling was being held at 18,374 polling booths at 11,607 polling stations where 1,122 video cameras and 1,190 digital cameras have been installed to maintain a vigil on poll process.

Stakes are high for ruling BSP, Congress, SP and the BJP in the no holds barred fight for the 403 assembly seats.

In this phase, atleast 121 candidates with criminal background and as many as 48 crorepatis are in fray.

In this phase fate of cabinet ministers Indrajit Saroj – Manjhanpur, Nand Gopal Gupta alias Nandi – Allahabad South and Dharmaraj Nishad – Shahganj and minister of state Vinod Singh – Lambhua, besides 29 MLAs and 14 former ministers would be sealed.

Former secondary education minister Rangnath Mishra is contesting from Mirzapur Sadar seat on BSP ticket, whereas sacked higher education minister Rakesh Dhar Tripathi is in fray as an independent from Handiya seat in Allahabad.

Two BJP heavyweights Legislative Party Leader Om Prakash Singh is contesting from Chunar and former Vidhan Sabha speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi from Allahabad South seat.

Shekhar Bahuguna, brother of state Congress president, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, is in fray for Phaphamau seat in Allahabad, whereas Ujjwal Rama Singh, son of SP MP and former Minister Reoti Raman Singh, from Karchana seat.

Fate of sitting Congress MLA Amita Singh and national general secretary of Apna Dal Anupriya Patel would also be decided in this phase apart from a number of heavyweights.

Former MP and accused in several cases Ateeq Ahmad is Apna Dal candidate from Allahabad West seat. Mafia don Brijesh Singh is in fray from Syedraza seat in Chandauli district as Pragatisheel Manav Samaj candidate.

Accused in several shootouts Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi, currently lodged in Tihar jail, is in fray as Apna Dal candidate from Madiyahon in Jaunpur district.

SP MLA Vijay Mishra, who is currently lodged in jail in connection with attack on cabinet minister Nand Gopal Gupta alias Nandi, is seeking re-election from Gyanpur seat in Bhadoi district.

Jagriti Singh, wife of BSP MP Dhananjay Singh, lodged in jail in a double murder case, is contesting from Malhani seat in Jaunpur district as an independent candidate.

Other prominent candidates include, six time MLA from Varanasi south Shyam Dev Rai Chaudhary – BJP, five time MLA from Malhani and two time MP Parasnath Yadav – SP and former bureaucrat Rajendra Pandey from Manjhwa seat in Mirzapur district.

In 2007 assembly elections third phase covered 52 seats, of which BSP won 31, SP 11, BJP 6, Congress 3 and independent one. In this phase 42.6 per cent polling was recorded.