Polling for the seventh and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections concluded on Saturday in a peaceful manner as no untoward incident was witnessed during the polls. Talking to Dainik Jagran, UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha expressed happiness and spoke about the arrangements that ensured fair and peaceful elections in the state. Excerpts:

With all the seven phases of UP polls coming to an end, what conclusion do we draw out of it?

 The people this time have exercised their right to vote as their responsibility. They now realise the importance of voting. Moreover, the political parties comprehend that the voters cannot be deceived anymore.

What are the main reasons behind the high voter turnout?

Some positive changes were witnessed during the polls. Women who till now refrained from voting, came out in large numbers to exercise their rights. Surprisingly old-aged and physically challenged people too were seen voting.  Another big factor behind the high voter turnout was the voter slip bearing information about the location of polling booths sent to every house which made it easier for the people to locate the booths.

What differences do you mark in this election and the previous one?

This poll was peaceful in the true sense. There was no violence, no deafening loudspeakers, no unwanted pasting of posters on walls. The polls continued amid normal activities of livelihood.

Violence was witnessed in the panchayat polls and during polling in other states. What is the reason behind peaceful elections in UP?

Many things interwoven made a congenial environment for violence free elections in the state. Firstly, the Commission right from the initial stages had adopted a strict attitude. Secondly, the strict adherence to the model code of conduct prevented conflicts among the politicians.

The voters also deserve an applause as they showcased extreme patience and gave importance to voting over petty gains.

The Commission organised a tremendous drive, what was its effect in the state?

The commission's drive can be compared with the Pulse polio campaign. There was enthusiasm and passion among the voters to exercise their rights.

Inspite of all the efforts, about 40 percent of the electorate did not reach the polling booths?

Our efforts in this direction are not yet over. We will overcome the shortcomings in future.

How many marks would you give to the commission and the voter?

Both deserve full marks.