An average of only 46.84 per cent votes were cast till 6 pm Thursday in the by-elections to Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats, polling was scheduled to close in the two Samajwadi Party bastions.
Rampur, which fell vacant after SP leader Azam Khan moved to the state assembly, recorded a turnout of just 37 per cent till this time. In 2019, the final percentage was 63.19.
Over 35 lakh people were eligible to vote in the bypolls in these two constituencies to decide the fate of 19 candidates.
No violent incident was reported. But in a series of tweets, the opposition Samajwadi Party alleged irregularities in both constituencies.
“The police are harassing SP workers at the behest of the ruling party in Tanda and Daryal areas of Swar assembly seat in Rampur. The Election Commission should take note. Action should be taken against the guilty policemen. Ensure fair voting,” the party said.
It attached a letter written to the poll panel with this complaint.
The party alleged that people were prevented from casting votes at a booth in Tanda and the polling was stopped.
It also claimed that its agents were driven out of several polling booths in Azamgarh.
“All agents were made to leave from all the polling booths in Gopalpur, Sagdi, Mubarakpur, Azamgarh and Mehnagar assembly areas as part of a conspiracy at the behest of the BJP. The Election Commission should take note. Ensure fair elections,” the party tweeted.
According to another report, a police inspector misbehaved with an elderly voter in Bilaspur in Rampur, leading to a ruckus. State minister Baldev Singh Aulakh reached the spot and pacified people there, the report said.
According to the Election Commission, two general and two expense observers have been deputed by it to keep an eye on the polls. Also, 291 sector magistrates, 40 zonal magistrates and 433 micro-observers were in the field.
Central forces are in charge of keeping the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and strongrooms secure.
According to the EC, 13 candidates are in the fray in Azamgarh, where 18.38 lakh people are eligible to vote. Six candidates are contesting from Rampur, which has 17.06 lakh registered voters.
In Rampur, the BJP fielded Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi, who recently joined the party. Asim Raja, handpicked by Azam Khan is the SP candidate. The Mayawati-led BSP is not contesting from Rampur.
The Azamgarh seat is seeing a triangular contest among BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirhua’, a Bhojpuri actor-singer, SP’s Dharmendra Yadav and BSP’s Shah Alam, also known as Guddu Jamali.
Of the 18.38 lakh voters in Azamgarh, 9,70,249 are men, 8,67,942 women and 36 belong to the third gender category.
Officials said 2,176 booths were set up at 1,149 polling stations of the constituency, where an estimated 15 per cent of the population is Muslims. In Rampur, the community makes up for a little less than half of the population.
Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple Yadav did not campaign in the bypolls.