Approximately 56.84 per cent of the 2.36 crore voters exercised their franchise in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in eastern Uttar Pradesh in the seventh and final phase poll on Sunday that passed off peacefully.
On Sunday, the voters sealed the fates of 167 candidates, including 13 women, prominent among them being Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Union ministers Manoj Sinha (Ghazipur) and Aunpriya Patel (Mirzapur), BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey (Chandauli), Bhojpuri actor and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan (Gorakhpur)
Election Commission sources said that till 6 pm, the turnout (across 13 seats) was 56.84 per cent. They said the polling percentage could marginally change as those in the queue till 6 pm were being allowed to cast their votes.
Along with the Lok Sabha poll, bypolls to Agra (North) Assembly seat was also held on Sunday and the polling was around 40 percent.
In this phase, Varanasi had the highest number of 26 candidates in the fray followed by 15 each in Ghosi and Salempur, 14 each in Maharajganj, Kushinagar and Ghazipur, 13 in Chandauli, 12 in Robertsganj, 11 in Deoria, 10 each in Ballia and Gorakhpur, nine in Mirzapur and four in Bansgaon.
In Chandauli, there was a clash between Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party workers near a polling booth in Sikitiya area. BJP MLA Sadhna Singh was present when the clash broke out as SP leaders alleged rigging by the BJP. Police intervened and brought the situation under control.
In another incident in Chandauli, it was alleged that some leaders of a political party distributed Rs 500 each to the members of the Dalit community at Tarajivanpur village under Alinagar police station and asked them not to vote while some anti-social elements applied black ink on their finger. The Election Commission has sought a report from the district authorities about the incident.
In Sakaldiha assembly segment of Ghazipur Lok Sabha constituency, fire broke out at booth number 237 but it was controlled by the local villagers .The polling was disrupted for 30 minutes due to the fire.
In Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Mirzapur and Ghazipur, voters had lined up in queues at polling booths one hour before polling commenced. But polling slowed down with the rise of mercury. Congress candidate Ajai Rai and SP nominee Shalini Yadav cast their votes after worshiping at different temples in Varanasi. Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi also voted in Varanasi.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath exercised his franchise at 7 am at the polling booth in Gorakshnath temple and was among the early voters. Union minister Manoj Sinha voted at Ghazipur and Anupriya Patel at Mirzapur.
A presiding officer in charge of booth number 213 in Gorakhpur died following a massive heart attack on Sunday before the start of the polling.
Official said that the officer, Vinod Srivastava, inspector in Sugarcane department, complained of chest pain and was rushed to hospital but he died early Sunday morning. The deceased presiding officer was in-charge of booth number 213 at Kopawan in Bansgaon police station area.
In another incident, presiding officer Raja Ram died due to massive heart attack early Sunday morning. He was deployed at booth number 381 of Pipriach assembly segment of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency. However, polling was not disrupted at the booth as alternative arrangements were made by the authorities.
Meanwhile three villages, two in Gorakhpur and one in Mau district, boycotted polling over development issues. In Varanasi also, villagers of Madhopur in Harau block boycotted polling. Villagers of Nayarar and Chakadal villages in Campairganj assembly segment of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency boycotted polling.
In Mau, villagers of Sanagpar, which is in Ghosi Lok Sabha constituency, boycotted polling in protest against absence of road.