Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: Phase-3 sees polling across 69 constituencies today.
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's "Kaam Bolta Hai (work tells)" slogan was put to test today as 69 of the state's 403 constituencies voted in the third of its seven-phase assembly elections. Till 5 pm, provisional data showed 62 per cent voting - a 2 per cent rise over 2012. That year, the ruling party had won 54 of the 69 seats - the test is to see how many it can retain this time. Among the seats - spread across 12 districts -- that went to polls included the ones where various members of the state's ruling first family have been fielded: the Lucknow Cantt where the family's chhoti bahu Aparna Yadav took on Rita Bhaguna Joshi, the Congress veteran who switched sides and is now fighting on a BJP ticket; Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Shivpal Yadav's Jaswantnagar and cousin Anurag Yadav from Lucknow's Sarojini Nagar seat. The BJP -- which is hoping for a big win in Uttar Pradesh -- is banking on what they have said is the people's support for the central government's move to ban high denomination notes in November.
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The 12 districts where polling was held included Farrukhabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Hardoi, Kannauj, Kanpur rural, Kanpur city, Unnao, Lucknow, Barabanki, Auraiyya and Sitapur. More than 2.4 crore people were expected to decide the fate of 826 candidates.
Akhilesh Yadav has claimed big development projects in the areas going to polls today - including the Lucknow-Agra expressway which joins 7 of the 12 districts. The upcoming Metro Rail in Lucknow is also among the projects the Chief Minister has showcased.
The great divide in the state's ruling family over the struggle for the control of the party -- won decisively by Akhilesh Yadav -- is expected to have a role in the voters' decision.
The family denied there was any rift. Mulayam Singh, who went to vote with wife Sadhana Yadav and younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, said, "There is no fight. Aren't there fights in your home? We will form the next government in Uttar Pradesh".
"It depends on your cameras whom you see with whom... Netaji (Mulayam Singh) has asked for votes for the cycle everywhere. If he did not hold rallies with me, it is because we want all leaders to attend as many rallies as possible," Akhilesh Yadav said.
Mulayam Singh's brother and close aide Shivpal Yadav -- whose key role in the party pitted the young Chief Minster against his father -- and cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, who has been the mentor of the Chief Minister, came at separate times to vote at the same poll booth in Etawah.
So far in this election, Mulayam Singh had campaigned for Shivpal Yadav. He also sought votes for Aparna Yadav, wife of Mulayam Singh younger son Prateek Yadav who had sided with Shivpal Yadav, in the tussle. Her battle in Lucknow Cantt is going to the one of the most-watched in the state, with Ms Bahuguna Joshi being the daughter of former Chief Minister HN Bahuguna Joshi.
The BJP has not projected a chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh, building its campaign instead around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal. In his campaign, PM Modi has said in the notes ban, aimed at eliminating black or undeclared money, he had the interests of the poor at heart. A huge section of the voters in Uttar Pradesh, the nation's most populous state, are rural poor.
Apart from Ms Bahuguna Joshi, BJP's prominent candidates going to polls include its chief spokesperson of the state Hriday Narayan Dikshit from Bhagwantnagar; Ashutosh Tandon, the son of senior leader Lalji Tandon from Lucknow East; six-time legislator from Kanpur Cantonment Satish Mahana; and former lawmaker Brijesh Pathak from Lucknow Central.
Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are being conducted in seven phases. The voting percentages in the first and second phases of the election were recorded at 64.2 and 66 per cent. The votes will be counted on March 11.