UP witnesses voter turnout of 60.03 percent till 5 pm

Manipur will see polling in 22 seats across five districts in its second and final phase, where the fate of nearly all the big names in the north east state's politics-including Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Deputy CM Gaikhangam and human rights activist-turned-politician Irom Chanu Sharmila- will be decided.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also held roadshows to counter the BJP's blitzkrieg. Ahead of the last phase, PM Modi held two back-to-back road shows, addressed four public meetings, visited an influential ashram and offered tributes to former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri - all in a span of three days - as he sought votes for his party candidates.

Bhadohi, known for its high carpet exports, logged a poor 57.9 and so did Ghazipur where only 59 per cent votes were cast.

Overall voter turnout till 1 pm in Uttar Pradesh has been recorded at 37.68 per cent.

"The election is much closer than we thought it would be", pollster Praveen Patil told Reuters.

In Manipur, Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, who is contesting from Thoubal seat, cast his vote at a polling booth.

The election is being billed as a litmus test for Modi as the BJP largely banked on his popularity in its bid for power, especially in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh where it has been out of government for 15 years.

The first phase of elections on March 4 recorded a voter turnout of 87%.

One EVM machine in Ajmat Garh school in Varanasi Cantt is not working. I am not in the chief ministerial race.

Demonetisation could play both ways for the BJP, analysts said.

In Ukhrul district, polling was stalled for some time in a booth following protest by a few voters.

After all the key players talked about notching up 300 plus of the 403 seats, talks of a hung house suddenly gained momentum in the last phases of polling with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself flagging the possibility of a hung assembly in the state.

A third party, popular among lower-caste Indians in a region where most people vote along social and religious lines, appears to be recovering some lost ground, analysts said, strengthening the chances for a hung state assembly.

Security has been tightened after the Lucknow siege in which suspected ISIS terrorist Saiful was killed.

Polling will conclude at 5 pm in all constituencies, except Naxal-hit Duddhi, Robertsganj and Chakia seats, where it ended at 4 pm.

  • Leroy Wright