Lucknow: An estimated 55 percent votes were polled in the fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections which covered Rae Bareli and Amethi, bastions of Nehru-Gandhi family, and part of backward Bundelkhand region, for whose development Rahul Gandhi has made strong case.

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ELECTIONS 2012

A total of more than 1.74 crore voters sealed the fate of 967 candidates in the polling held in Hardoi, Unnao, Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Farukkhabad, Kannauj, Banda, Chitrakoot, Fatehpur, Pratapgarh and CSM Nagar which includes Amethi.

While there was brisk polling in CSM Nagar and Rae Bareli, good voter turnout was also recorded in Banda and Chitrakoot infamous for dacoits.

"An estimated 55 percent polling was recorded till 5 PM. The figure, however, may change a little as polling continued even after that time at a number of places," a state Election Commission official said.

Result of this phase of the seven-part polling would decide the fate of several stalwarts, including three ministers, 32 sitting MLAs, 12 former ministers, national vice-president of BJP Kalraj Mishra and Congress state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Chief Minister Mayawati was among state leaders who exercised their franchise.

"Polling for the fourth phase covering 11 districts started at 7 AM amidst tight security arrangements and picked up as the day progressed," an election official said. Polling has been peaceful, he said.

Stakes are high for ruling BSP, Congress, SP and BJP in the no-holds-barred fight for the 403 assembly seats. The fourth phase has 103 candidates with criminal cases pending against them. There are also 139 'crorepatis' in the contest.

Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said that polling was held at 18608 polling booths at 12821 centres. A total 3393 of polling booths were identified as sensitive and 3623 as hyper-sensitive, he said.

In the fourth phase, Kalraj Mishra, who is a Rajya Sabha member, made his debut in electoral politics from Lucknow East seat, whereas Rita Bahuguna Joshi was in fray from Lucknow Cantonment seat.

On Sunday's phase would also decide fate of Louise Khurshid, wife of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid from Farukkhabad Sadar constituency.

Congress Legislative Party leader Pramod Tiwari is seeking a re-run from his traditional Rampur Khas seat in Pratapgarh district.

While Urban Development Minister Nakul Dubey has shifted to Bakshi ka Talab seat, Science and Technology Minister Abdul Mannan is seeking re-election from Sandila seat.

The remaining phases of polling will be held on February 23, 28 and March 3. Counting will take place on March 6.

The first phase of polling on February 8 in 55 constituencies in 10 districts had recorded around 63 percent turnout while the voting percentage in the second phase on February 11 for 59 seats spread over nine districts was 59 percent. In the third phase, the polling percentage was 56 for 56 seats.

(Agencies)