UP elections: Over 28 per cent polling in first six hours

Election Machine
Lucknow, Feb 8: After a slow start due to rain, polling for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections picked up by the afternoon with 28.35 per cent of the over 1.70 crore electorate exercising their franchise.

As the weather started improving, people started coming out in large number to exercise their franchise. "In the first six hours, 28.35 per cent polling was registered in 55 assembly seats spread over 10 districts," Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told PTI.

Amdist complaints of EVM malfunctioning, 31 per cent polling was recorded in Bahraich district. Sitapur, where people boycotted polling in Gularia village in Misrikh assembly seat to protest lack of development, registered 33 per cent polling by 1 PM. Similarly in Gonda, which recorded 32 per cent polling till 1 PM, nearly 800 voters boycotted poll process at booth number 34 in Mehnaun assembly seat to protest shifting of polling station three kilometres away from the village.

Polling also picked up in in Faizabad where 30 per cent electorate exercised their franchise till 1 PM as compared to 14 per cent in the first two hours. Maximum 40.2 per cent polling till 1 PM was recorded in Ambedkar Nagar district, where a long queue of voters were witnessed at polling stations. Lowest poll percentage 25.5 per cent was recorded in Siddharth Nagar district followed by 26.5 per cent in neighbouring Basti district. Initially, heavy rain in most of the assembly seats for which polling is being held played, spoilsport.

In Basni Assembly seat in Siddharth Nagar, not a single vote was cast in the first two hours of polling due to heavy rains, officials said. Polling is being held in 10 districts -- Sitapur, Barabanki, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddharth Nagar and Basti amidst tight security arrangements. More than 1.70 crore electorate- 952.87 lakh men and 70.44 lakh women - are expected to seal the fate of 862 candidates. The candidates include 796 men, 65 women and one eunuch.

Maximum 26 candidates are in fray for Barabanki seat, whereas Mehmoodabad has minimum number of 8 candidates. Stakes are high for ruling BSP, Congress, SP and the BJP in the no holds barred fight for the 403 assembly seats. Today's polling would decide the future of cabinet minister Lalji Verma, minister of state Sangram Singh Verma, 31 sitting MLAs, 15 former ministers and relatives of several MPs including Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.

It would be a litmus test for Congress leaders, including Beni Prasad Verma and National Commission for Scheduled Caste Chairman P L Punia as both of them represent the areas going to the polls.


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