NEW DELHI:The polling exercise, in the eye of both analysts and the public, is mostly about voter turnouts and the usual statistics about— Uttarakhand recorded a high at 65.5 per cent and UP higher at 68 per cent. Rarely is it about the ubiquitous polling officials.
But on Wednesday, the Election Commission could not avoid marvelling at its foot soldiers — the polling personnel — who trekked for three days from Feb 11 to 14 carrying EVMs on mules to reach a couple of snow-bound polling booths in Chamoli and Ganshali of Uttarakhand, just to help 275 and 230 voters respectively to exercise their franchise.
These were just two of the 803 snow-hit booths of the hills for which the polling squads had to make preparations for almost a month.
For once, it was not the candidates or the political parties embroiled in a bitter contest, but these polling personnel — clogs in the wheel — who stood out.
Otherwise polling in the politically crucial second phase of UP and in Uttarakhand took place with routine precision.
While the Samajwadi Party and the Congress are trying to retain power in the respective states, the BJP is challenging them in both. BSP chief Mayawati is creating a quiet buzz around her party over the alliance of the underdog, the Dalit and the non-elite Muslims.
“This time the Uttarakhand voter turn-out has been the highest ever. The turnout was 68% at 5PM and in many polling stations there were long queues so it is likely to go higher. In the 2012 elections the turnout was 67.22% and 62.15% in the 2014 general elections,” said Sandeep Saxena, deputy election commissioner.
He added, “Polling in Uttarakhand went by peacefully. There was no incident of violence and intimidation that was reported.”
In other interesting sidelights, in the run-up to the poll, cash worth
Rs 3.38 crore and narcotics worth Rs 37.23 lakh were seized.
Electorate in 69 assembly constituencies of Uttarakhand and 67 of UP’s terai and its vicinity cast their votes to decide the fate of 628 and 720 candidates, respectively.
“Till 5PM, 65.5% voting was done. The tone has been set in the first and second phase and the EC will continue to conduct free and fair elections in the remaining phases as well,” said Vijay Dev, Deputy Election Commissioner in charge of Uttar Pradesh.
He added, “There was a scheme to curb the influence of money and liquor in elections. Total cash seizure was Rs 16.52 crore. And 3.29 lakh litre liquor worth Rs 9 crore and drugs worth Rs 1.16 crore were seized.”
Uttar Pradesh registered a turnout of 64.22% in the first phase of polling for 73 constituencies of western UP. The 403 constituencies in the state are going to poll in seven phases.
In Uttarakhand, chief minister Harish Rawat-led Congress party is in a direct contest with the BJP.
Out of the total 70 assembly constituencies of Uttarakhand, polling in Karnaprayag seat is not taking place due to the death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi in a road accident on Sunday.