Poling ends in 40 seats of Uttar Pradesh state assembly spread over seven eastern districts, including five in Varanasi, bringing curtains down on the two month-long exercise staggered in seven phases.
The stake are highest in the final phase as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi goes to polls. While BJP is looking at reviving the magic and win of 2014 general elections, Samajwadi Party and Congress alliance hope to maintain the edge in the legislative assembly.
The three Naxal-affected districts of Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli, along with the five Assembly segments under Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, will be in prime focus in this phase. Tight security has been put in place in these districts.
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A total of 1.41 crore voters, including 64.76 lakh women, will exercise their franchise in the last phase.
14,458 polling booths have been set up in this phase.
In the 2012 state Assembly polls, out of these 40 seats, 23 went to SP, 5 to BSP, 4 to BJP, 3 to Congress and 5 to others.
The seven districts going to polls in this phase are Ghazipur, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Bhadoi and Sonebhadra.
In all, 535 candidates, including 40 (BSP), 32 (BJP), 31 (SP), 9 (Congress), 21 (RLD) and 5 (NCP) are in the fray in this phase.
While the maximum number of candidates (24) are from the Varanasi Cant seat, the minimum number of candidates (six) are contesting from Kerakat (SC).
The counting of votes polled in all the seven phases of the Assembly polls will be taken up on March 11.
Important details about UP Phase VII Elections
# Total Assembly Constituencies: 40
# Date of Polling: March 8 (Phase VII of VII)
# Total Electorate: 1.41 crore voters (including 64.76 lakh women)
# Number of Polling Stations: 14,458
# Major Parties:
- SP-Congress alliance
- BJP-Apna Dal
#2012 Assembly Election Results:
- SP: 23 Seats
- BSP: 5 Seats
- BJP: 4 Seats
- Congress: 3 Seats
- Others: 5 Seats
Here is the LIVE COVERAGE:
#06:19 PM: Voter turnout of 60.03% recorded in 7th phase of polling in UP elections till 5 PM
#04:50 PM: Around 56 per cent voting till 4 PM in the last phase of #UPpolls.
#02:30 PM: Over 41 per cent voting till 2 PM in UPPolls phase-VII.
#12:35 PM: Over 26 per cent voting till 12 noon in the last phase.
#11:55 AM: 22.84 percent polling till 11 AM
#10:38 AM: BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi casts his vote at booth number 76 of Varanasi North.
#10.24 AM: 65-year old woman dies before casting her vote at polling booth number 357 of Mughalsarai assembly constituency-ANI
#9:48 AM: Apna Dal leader & Union Minister Anupriya Patel casts her vote at polling booth no. 335 of Mirzapur, says "we will win all 40 seats".
Apna Dal leader & Union Minister Anupriya Patel casts her vote at polling booth no. 335 of Mirzapur, says "we will win all 40 seats". pic.twitter.com/Sfoma30RkZ— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 8, 2017
#9:35 AM: 11.97 per cent voting in PM Modi's Varanasi till 9 AM.
#8:57 AM: Congress leader Ajai Rai casts his vote at polling booth no. 389 of Varanasi South, says "7th phase is going to vote against 'Jumlebaazi'".
#8:22 AM: Voting begins at booths. 269 & 260 in Chandauli (Sakaldiha Assembly constituency) after one hour, technical glitch rectified.
#8:06 AM: People queue up at polling booth no. 68 in Varanasi North; BJP's Ravindra Jaiswal, BSP's Sujit Kumar Maurya contesting from the seat
#7:49 AM: People cast their vote at polling booth 127 in Mohammadabad, Mukhtar Ansari's brother Sibakatullah contesting from the seat as BSP candidate
#7:45 AM: Voting has not begun at polling booth number 240 in Mirzapur due to technical glitch in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)
#7:20 AM: Voters queue up at polling booths 176,177,178 in Mirzapur to cast their vote in the last phase of Uttar Pradesh elections.
# 7:00 AM: Voting begins in UP for 40 assembly seats in 7th and the final phase of elections.
Campaign blitzkrieg: Of roadshows, rallies and press conferences
March 4-6 saw the most intense campaign of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. A highly-charged final phase of campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh polls witnessed the show of strength by the BJP, the SP-Congress combine and the BSP in PM Narendra Modi's Varanasi constituency taking centre stage where he camped for three days.
Over the course of three days, the Prime Minister visited temples, held a roadshow and attended a number of public events in the holy city along with several rallies in the region, in the final push by the BJP to reach out to voters.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also matched it with their own campaign blitz in the region.
Joined by Akhilesh's wife Dimple, the two leaders held a roadshow, hours after Modi arrived in the city and paid obeisance at the Kashi Vishwanath and Kal Bhairav temples with much fanfare.
BSP chief Mayawati, who is seeking a fifth term as Chief Minister, also addressed a rally in Rohaniya, around 20 km from Varanasi the same day.
A galaxy of BJP veterans and Union ministers also made a beeline to Varanasi towards the fag end of electioneering, making the poll atmosphere highly charged.
Leading BJP's campaign from the front, Modi mocked Akhilesh and Rahul as "delicate" people incapable of taking hard decisions while pitching himself as a grassroots leader who can bring development to the 'Purvanchal' region and the state.
Modi said the SP and the BSP are two sides of the same coin -- the former being A (Akhilesh) SP and the latter B (Bahujan) SP.
Taking potshots at the Congress over its run of losses in the recent polls, he said one day research would have be done to find out if it ever existed, as it is "disappearing from everywhere."
During his election rally in Sonbhadra towards the end of the campaign, Akhilesh ridiculed Modi's roadshows saying these were bound to fail like the earlier ones and would lead the PM "somewhere else."
"A roadshow was held...it failed. He is doing one more...it too will fail and then again a roadshow will be held...Now he will go somewhere else by doing his roadshow," he said at a rally in Varanasi.
Rahul, in his address, alleged that Modi has waived loans worth Rs 1.40 lakh crore owed by 50 rich people but refused to write off Rs 50,000 crore due of poor farmers.
At her rally, Mayawati claimed the people at Modi's roadshow were "mere spectators" brought from neighbouring states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
She said the joint roadshow by Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi reflected they had "reconciled to defeat" and added that prayers being offered at temples and shrines "will be of no avail".
Modi on Monday wrapped up his hectic campaign with a rally at Rohaniya, where he made an impassioned plea to voters to defeat SP-Congress combine and BSP, blaming these parties for the plight of Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh, meanwhile lined up 13 rallies on the last day of campaigning.
The blitzkrieg is over. The counting for all state assembly elections held in last two months will be held on March 11.
(With inputs from PTI)