Over 52 pc turnout till 4 PM in ph-V of UP polls

Lucknow: Amid tight security, an estimated 52 percent of 1.81 crore electorates today cast their votes till 4 PM during the fifth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh where all eyes are set on Amethi and Faizabad.

Polling is on, by and large peacefully, in 51 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts of the state.

"Over 52 percent polling was recorded till 4 PM," poll officials said here.

The exercise was slow in the first two hours but picked up pace gradually, with the first-time voters seen exercising their franchise quite enthusiastically.

Prominent contestants in this phase include controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati from the ruling Samajwadi Party, who is facing Amita Singh from Congress and BJP's Garima Singh in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Rahul Gandhi.

Prajapati, against whom an FIR has been lodged in an alleged rape case, said the people were with him and there was a strong wave in the favour of ruling SP. "Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will become the CM again," he claimed.

Amita, wife of Congress leader Sanjay Singh, hoped people would support the best candidate "and I will definitely win."

Garima, the first wife of Sanjay, on the other hand said there was no development in the constituency and people were facing problems.

The districts going to polls in this phase are Balrampur, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Basti, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Amethi and Sultanpur.

Faizabad is another hot seat with BJP's Ram Temple issue once again figuring in its manifesto this time.

Ayodhya Assembly seat, which falls in Faizabad district, used to be a traditional stronghold of BJP since the Ram Temple movement days. But it was snatched by SP in 2012 and this time the saffron party is trying to wrest it back.

Due to death of SP candidate Chandrashekhar Kanaujia in Alapur (Ambedkar Nagar), the EC has announced fresh date of voting in this constituency on March 9.

The SP had won 37 seats out of 52 (total seats in this phase including Alapur) in the 2012 Assembly polls. While the BJP and Congress won five seats each, the BSP had won 3 and the Peace Party 2.

The turnout in these constituencies in 2012 was 57.09 per cent.