<p>Around 56% of the 1.75-strong electorate today exercised its franchise for 56 seats in the third phase of the UP assembly polls in which Mayawati's ruling BSP is facing a strong challenge from Congress, SP and BJP.
The incident-free third phase of the seven-part elections in the state will decide the fate of three cabinet ministers, a minister of state, 29 sitting MLAs and 14 former ministers.
The polling, which began on a sluggish note at 18,374 booths spread over 10 districts, picked up as the day progressed with state election officials putting overall turnout at around 56%.
As many as 1,018 candidates were in the fray for elections held in Amethi and Rae Bareli, pocket boroughs of Nehru-Gandhi family, CSM Nagar, Sultanpur, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jaunpur, Varanasi, Sant Ravidas Nagar and Naxal-hit areas of Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.
The remaining phases of polling for 403-strong Assembly will be held on February 19, 23, 28 and March 3. Counting of votes will take place on March 6.
The first phase of polling on February 8 in 55 constituencies in 10 districts had recorded around 63% turn out while the voting percentage in the second phase on February 11 for 59 seats spread over nine districts was 59%.
Till late afternoon, Sultanpur district had recorded a maximum of 50% polling, whereas 44.88% was registered in Jaunpur.
"Voting began at 7 am for the third phase of assembly elections and 47.05% polling was recorded till 3 pm," Election Commission officials said here. Among other districts, CSM Nagar recorded 47%, Kaushambi 47%, Varanasi 46.62%, Bhadoi 47% and Sonbhadra 46% till about two hours before close of polling.