62% turnout in incident-free first phase of UP polls

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Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow, Feb 8: Polling for the first phase of high- voltage Uttar Pradesh assembly elections on Tuesday recorded a moderate 62 per cent turnout on an incident-free day after a sluggish start due to rain, with Mayawati's ruling BSP facing a tough challenge from Congress, BJP and SP.

After an initial lull, polling picked up quickly after midday as the weather cleared with over 62 per cent of the 1.7 crore-strong electorate, which included 70 lakh women, exercising its franchise, state election officials said.

Polling was held in 55 constituencies spread over 10 districts -- Sitapur, Barabanki, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddharth Nagar and Basti amidst tight security arrangements. The candidates include 796 men, 65 women and one eunuch.

The first phase of elections for the 403-member assembly will seal the fate of two ministers, 31 MLAs and 15 former ministers.

Long queues of voters were seen at polling booths in several areas in late afternoon. "The biggest problem was that of rain in the initial hours, but later the response from the electorate was good," Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said.

Amidst complaints of EVM malfunctioning, a lower turnout was registered in Bahraich district, while in Sitapur, where people boycotted polling in Gularia village in Misrikh assembly seat to protest lack of development, officials said.

In Gonda, nearly 800 voters boycotted poll process at booth number 34 in Mehnaun assembly seat to protest shifting of the polling station three kilometres away from the village.

The remaining phases of polling will be held on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 28 and March 3. Counting of votes will take place on March 6.

PTI

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