LUCKNOW: A total of 61.16 percent voter turnout was recorded as voting ended in the third phase of the ongoing assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.
Till 3 p.m., the turnout was estimated to be 53 percent.
With over 826 candidates from 105 political parties contesting for 69 seats, polling began on Sunday morning for the crucial third phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections.
The districts that went to polling in this phase are Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Kannauj, Mainpuri, Etawah, Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Auraiya, Lucknow, Unnao, Sitapur and Barabanki.
There were 2 crore and 41 lakh voters, including over 1 crore 10 lakh women and 1028 third gender who decided the political fate of 826 candidates including 105 women in the fray.
Sixteen thousand 681 polling centers and 25 thousand 607 polling stations were erected for polling.
Elaborate security arrangements were made for the smooth functioning of the polling process.
Stray incidents of violence - firing, preventing some from voting and stone pelting - were reported from some places though voting has been by and large peaceful in most constituencies.
Besides BSP supremo Mayawati, Home Minister Rajnath Singh with his family cast their votes in Lucknow while Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav voted in Saifai (Etawah).
Singh's Lok Sabha constituency Lucknow, and SP strongholds Kannauj, Mainpuri and Etawah, figure in this round.
Also, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, accompanied by his daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, has cast his vote at Saifai.
"Developmental work has been done in UP and Akhilesh will once again be the CM," he said.
The party patriarch also added that Shivpal Yadav would win by a large margin.
Dimple Yadav, wife of Akhilesh Yadav and MP from the Kanauj district, said that the ongoing election should be about the state's progress.
On the other hand, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj cast his vote in Unnao.
In Kanpur, 20.68 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 11 AM. The polling began slowly but picked up pace later. At some polling booths, there were reports of minor skirmishes between supporters of the candidates.
Singh's Lok Sabha constituency Lucknow and SP strongholds Kannauj, Mainpuri and Etawah figure in this round.
Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur, Unnao, Barabanki and Sitapur are among the 12 districts where these Assembly seats are spread.
Etawah is the native place of SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, while another key district is Mainpuri from where Tej Pratap Yadav is an SP MP. From Kannauj, Dimple Yadav, wife of Akhilesh, is an MP.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, SP had won 55 of these 69 seats, while BSP, BJP and Congress secured just six, five and two respectively. One seat went to an Independent.
The fate of 826 candidates in this phase will be decided by 2.41 crore voters, including 1.10 crore women and 1,026 persons belonging to third gender category.
In this phase, the maximum number of 4,98,573 voters are in Sarojini Nagar seat of Lucknow, while the minimum of 2,72,294 voters are in Sisamau.
The highest number of 21 candidates are in Etawah, while the minimum of three candidates are in Haidergarh (Barabanki).
Lucknow West and Central have 17 candidates each.
There are 25,603 polling booths in this phase.
For free and fair polling, the Election Commission has appointed 4,609 micro-observers and 61 general observers and deployed over 83,000 personnel of central paramilitary forces.
Besides this, 9,119 sub-inspectors of police, 3,357 head constables, 58,789 constables and 58,025 homeguards of state police are on duty today.
There are 1,707 sector magistrates, 200 zonal and 271 static magistrates to ensure peace.
Prominent among those whose prestige is at stake are Nitin Agarwal, son of SP leader Naresh Agarwal, BSP turncoat Brijesh Pathak from Lucknow (Central) on BJP ticket and Congress turncoat Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Lucknow Cantt who is pitted against Mulayam's daughter-in-law Aparna.
SP leader Shivpal is also a key figure in this round. He is contesting from Jaswant Nagar seat.
Congress leader PL Punia's son Tanuj Punia is trying his luck from Jaidpur seat in Barabanki.
In 2012 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the turnout in these areas was 59.96 per cent and 58.43 per cent respectively.
The next four phases of polling will be held on February 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes will take place on March 11.
(With Inputs from Agencies)