Voting in UP, Punjab lower than last time

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On February 20, the third phase of voting in Uttar Pradesh and in all of Punjab was completed. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Uttar Pradesh recorded a voter turnout of 61.61%, while Punjab recorded a voter turnout of 72%.as compare to 77.36 per cent in 2017. Overall, in both states, voting was lower than what had been recorded the last time.

There was trouble and allegations and counter allegations in certain parts of UP, with Samajwadi Party (SP) alleging discrepancies in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). The party claimed that the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) issued a slip of the BJP even when their leader had cast a vote for SP. The ECI said that it found the complaint baseless.

As per ECI data, Lalitpur polled the highest with 67.38 per cent voter turnout, followed by Etah with 63.58 per cent. The lowest voter turnout of 50 per cent was recorded in Kanpur. In the previous election as well, Lalitpur had recorded the maximum voting percentage of 72.05 per cent while Kanpur Nagar had the lowest voter turnout of 57.65 per cent.

In UP, polling is being held in seven-phases. In the third phase, 59 assembly seats (15 seats reserved) across 16 districts will vote on Sunday. As many as 627 candidates are in the fray in the phase, in which over 2.15 crore people are eligible to vote. This includes 1,16,12,010 male voters, 99,62,324 female voters and 1,096 third gender voters.

The districts where polling will be held are Hathras, Firozabad, Etah, Kasganj, Mainpuri, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Jalaun, Jhanshi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Mahoba.

In 2017 the BJP won 49 (voting of 46%) of these, while the SP had to settle with only nine (32%). The Congress got one and the Bahujan Samaj Party drew a blank.

Out of the 29 seats in the Yadav belt, the BJP won 23, while the SP could win only six. The BJP had secured a clean sweep in Bundelkhand by winning all 19 seats (49%). In Bundelkhand, 13 seats of Jhansi, Jalaun, Lalitpur, Hamirpur and Mahoba districts will vote in the third phase on February 20, while six seats of Chitrakoot and Banda districts will go to polls in the fourth phase on February 24.

The Karhal Assembly seat, from where Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting, will also go to the polls in this phase on Sunday. The BJP has fielded Union minister S P Singh Baghel from the seat.

The Punjab vote

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s constituencies, Bhadaur recorded 71.30 per cent and Chamkaur Sahib recorded 68 per cent voting. He is fighting from both seats.

AAP CM candidate Bhagwant Mann’s constituency Dhuri recorded 68 per cent voting, while Sukhbir Singh Badal’s constituency  Jalalabad had 71.50 per cent.

Parkash Singh Badal’s constituency Lambi recorded 72.40 per cent, while Capt. Amarinder Singh’s constituency Patiala city had 59.50 per cent.

Over 2.14 crore voters were set to decide the fate of 1304 candidates to elect 117 new members to the 16th Punjab Legislative Assembly. As the ruling party Congress looks to retain power in the state, it faces a challenge from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), SAD-BSP alliance, BJP-PLC alliance, and a new party -Sanyukt Samaj Morcha- floated by some farmer leaders.

Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has floated Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) after his unceremonious exit from the Congress.

In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 (38.50% Voting Share) seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 (23.72% Voting share) seats in the 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. BJP and SAD alliance Secured 20 seats (25.24% voting share), in which The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats.