Lucknow, Feb 19: Polling for the fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections covering 56 seats spread over 11 districts began on a sluggish note today as only 8.66 per cent votes were cast in the first two hours.
"Polling for the fourth phase covering 11 districts started at 7am amidst tight security arrangements and 8.66 per cent votes were cast in the first two hours," Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said. A maximum 12 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Fatehpur districts. Polling started on a slow note in bastion of Gandhi family CSM Nagar and Rae Bareli where voter turnout was 9 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively. This phase would decide the fate of three ministers, 32 sitting MLAs and 12 former ministers.
More than 1.74 crore voters are expected to cast their votes to seal the fate of 967 candidates in the polling to be held in Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Farukkhabad, CSM Nagar, Kannauj, Banda, Chitrakoot, Fatehpur and Pratapgarh.
Stakes are high for ruling BSP, Congress, SP and the BJP in the no holds barred fight for the 403 assembly seats. This phase has 103 candidates with criminal cases pending against them, besides 139 'crorepatis'.
The CEO said that polling was being held at 18608 polling booths at 12821 centres.
Total 3393 polling booths have been identified as sensitive and 3623 as hyper-sensitive.
The fourth phase would test fate of several stalwarts and heavyweights, including three ministers, 32 sitting MLAs, 12 former ministers, national vice-president of BJP Kalraj Mishra and Congress state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
In this phase, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kalraj Mishra is making his debut in electoral politics from Lucknow east seat, whereas UPPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi is in fray from Lucknow Cant seat.
This phase would also test the luck of Louis Khurshid, wife of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid from Farukkhabad Sadar seat. Congress Legislative Party leader Pramod Tiwari is seeking a re-run from his traditional Rampur Khas seat in Pratapgarh district.
Among ministers while Urban Development Minister Nakul Dubey has shifted to Bakshi ka Talab seat, Science and Technology Minister Abdul Mannan is re-contesting from Sandila seat.
Chairman of Housing and Development Board Achche Lal Nishad is in fray from Tindwari and chairman of UP Agro Brijmohan Singh Kushwaha from Baberu seat.
Senior BJP leader and MP Lalji Tandon's son Ahustosh Tandon alias Gopalji is also making his debut from Lucknow north seat.
Sitting BSP MLA and son of former minister Naresh Agarwal, Nitin Agarwal is again contesting from Hardoi Sadar seat but on SP ticket this time. Synonymous with empowerment of women in Bundelkhan region and leader of Gulabi gang Sampat Pal would also be in the fray as Congress candidate.
Independent candidate from Rae Bareli Sadar seat Akhilesh Singh would be contesting as Peace Party candidate, whereas heavyweight and sitting MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya is testing his luck from Kunda seat. Veer Singh, son of slain dacoit Daddua, is contesting for Kirvi seat in Chitrakoot as SP nominee.