Around 58 pc voting in UP till 5 PM

Lucknow, May 20 (UNI) Around 58 percent of 2.7 crore voters exercised their voting rights till 5 PM in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, a poll official said here.

The fate of several stalwarts including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister Smriti Irani and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

According to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), a maximum of 66.89 percent votes were polled in Barabanki, whereas Lucknow where Rajnath Singh is in the fray to take forward Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) legacy for the third consecutive time, recorded a minimum turnout of 52.03 percent votes.

In Rae Bareli, where former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is trying his luck for the first time 57.46 percent votes were polled. In Amethi, where Union Minister Smriti Irani is facing challenge from the old confidant of Gandhi family Kishori Lal Sharma, 54.17 percent votes were polled.

Among other constituencies, 62.53 votes were polled in Mohanlalganj, 55.44 percent in Jalaun, 63.57 percent in Jhansi, 60.36 percent in Hamirpur, 56.9 percent in Fatehpur, 52.6 percent in Kaushambi, 59.46 percent in Banda, 58.96 percent in Faizabad and 55.47 percent in Kaisarganj.

CEO Navdeep Rinwa said that the polling was by and large peaceful. He said that it is similar to vote percent in 2019 when it was 58.38 percent.

He said that the 14 Lok Sabha seats where polling was held in the fifth phase are Mohanlalganj, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Amethi, Jalaun, Jhansi, Hamirpur, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Kaiserganj and Gonda. “Out of these, 10 seats were of general category and 4 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes,” Rinwa said.

The CEO said that these 14 Lok Sabha constituencies were spread over 21 districts of Lucknow, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Amethi, Sultanpur, Jalaun, Jhansi, Kanpur Dehat, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda, Chitrakoot, Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Barabanki, Ayodhya, Gonda, Bahraich and Balrampur.

He said that a total 2.7 crore voters, comprising 1.43 male and 1.27 crore female, were eligible to decide the fate of 144 candidates, including 13 women candidates who were in the fray in this phase.

Rinwa said that polling was held at 28,688 polling booths spread over 17,128 polling centres in these constituencies.

The CEO said that to keep a close vigil on the polling, the commission had deployed three special observers, 14 general observers, nine police observers and 15 expenditure observers. “Apart from this, 2,416 sector magistrates, 327 zonal magistrates, 549 static magistrates and 3,619 micro observers were deployed.” he said.

Meanwhile, police sources said that to ensure free and fair election 9,916 Inspectors, sub-Inspectors, 70,862 head constables and constables, 30 companies of PAC and 234 companies of CAPF were deployed.

It may be noted that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is seeking a third term from Lucknow, which had been the bastion of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), since 1991. He is being challenged by sitting MLA Ravidas Mehrotra of Samajwadi Party (SP).

Rajnath had been elected from Lucknow, which was represented by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee twice – in 2014 and 2019.

The most interesting election is being witnessed in Rae Bareli where former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is being challenged by a Minister in Yogi Adityanath government Dinesh Pratap Singh.

In the 2019 election, Rahul lost to BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi. This time he has moved to another traditional seat of Congress Rae Bareli after his mother Sonia Gandhi was appointed to Rajya Sabha.

His sister and party’s national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigned extensively campaigning in support of Rahul. Congress Parliamentary Committee chairperson and former MP Sonia Gandhi made an emotional appeal in the favour of her son Rahul, but the issue which dominates the Gandhi family’s bastion now is local versus outsider.

In Amethi, Union Minister Smriti Irani faces close confidant of Gandhi family and Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma. While Smriti Irani defeated Rahul Gandhi from this seat in 2019 Lok Sabha election, Sharma has a long association with the Gandhi family and he served as the local representative of Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli for almost a decade.

It may be mentioned that Sharma’s candidature was announced on the last day of the nomination.

Another interesting contest is being witnessed on Kaisarganj seat where sitting BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was denied ticket after he got embroiled in controversy related to women wrestlers.

While BJP denied ticket to Brij Bhushan, it made his son Karan Bhushan Singh as its nominee.

Karan Bhushan Singh, who is making foray in electoral politics, is pitted against Bhagat Ram Mishra of SP and Narendra Pandey of BSP. It may be noted that Brij Bhushan’s elder son Prateek Bhushan is already an MLA from Gonda Sadar seat.

Union Minister Kaushal Kishore is seeking his third term from the Mohanlalganj Lok Sabha seat. He is facing a challenge from former Minister and SP candidate RK Chaudhary and the BSP nominee Rajesh Kumar. Chaudhry, who joined SP, was once the founder member of BSP now led by Mayawati.

In Jhansi, former Union minister and Congress candidate Pradeep Jain Aditya is being challenged by the sitting BJP’s MP Anurag Sharma. The BSP has fielded a new face and student leader Ravi Prakash Maurya from this seat,

In Gonda, two times sitting BJP MP and erstwhile prince of Mankapur estate Kirti Vardhan Singh is facing challenge from SP candidate Shreya Varma. Shreya is making debut in electoral politics, and she is granddaughter of former Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma.

Beni Prasad who served as the Union Steel Minister in the UPA government was initially the founder member of SP and was very close to party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. He later parted ways from SP and joined Congress.

In Fatehpur, sitting BJP MP Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti is being challenged by former SP state president and party candidate Naresh Uttam Patel. The SP candidate, who was a deputy minister in Mulayam Singh government, is also close to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.

In Faizabad seat, which has become important for BJP after construction of Lord Ram Temple, sitting MP Lallu Singh is seeking a second term. However, this time he is being challenged by sitting MLA and founding member of SP Awadhesh Prasad.

In Barabanki, Congress has reposed its faith on Tanuj Punia against Rajrani Rawat of BJP. Tanuj Punia, who is son of senior Congress leader PL Punia, lost from here in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile, prominent leaders including Union Minister Smriti Irani, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Brajesh Pathak cast their votes at different places.

Irani cast her vote at the polling booth in Gauriganj, Amethi. Rajya Sabha MP Dr Dinesh Sharma, Sudhanshu Trivedi, Sanjay Seth, Brij Lal, MP Kaushal Kishore, Deputy CM Brajesh Pathak reached their polling booths in Lucknow and cast their votes.

Rajnath Singh exercised his franchise at polling centre in Vipul Khand Gomti Nagar.

BSP President Mayawati cast her vote at the polling booth located at Children Academy School near VVIP Guest House at 7 am and appealed to the people to vote in large numbers for a healthy democracy. BSP National General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra cast his vote at the polling booth located at Lucknow Montessori Inter College.

Minister in the Yogi government Swatantradev Singh cast his vote in Orai. BJP candidates from Rae Bareli Dinesh Pratap Singh, from Jhansi Anurag Sharma, from Hamirpur Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and others also cast their votes.

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