Lucknow: Election day
in Uttar Pradesh started off cold and damp with people huddled
indoors but the scene changed as it grew warmer and long queues
could be seen outside polling booths by afternoon Wednesday, in
the first round of the staggered assembly polls.
Till 3 p.m., two hours before polling closes at 5 p.m., there was
42 percent turnout in the 55 assembly constituencies in the
eastern part of the state.
With the weather improving, balloting would pick up, Uttar Pradesh
Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told IANS.
He said elections were proceeding peacefully and smoothly with no
untoward incident being reported. Polling started at 7 a.m.
In Ayodhya, for instance, long queues were finally being seen
outside polling booths as the day became warmer.
The rain and cold had kept people indoors in most places in the
morning. Till 11 a.m., only 13.38 percent of the 1.70 crore
electorate had come out to vote. According to Sinha, the voter
turnout in the first two hours was estimated between five and six
percent as against seven to eight percent witnessed in the 2009
Lok Sabha election.
In the first two hours of polling, for instance, just 150 voters
stepped out of their homes in the cold and rainy weather at the
Puremoti primary school in Barabanki, barely 35 km from here.
Among the important constituencies are Mahasi and Matera in
Bahraich district, Ayodhya in Faizabad, Sitapur, Kushinagar,
Mubarakpur in Azamgarh and Gazipur.
With 862 candidates in the first-phase fray, Barabanki has the
maximum number at 26 and Mahmoodabad the least with eight.
A massive security force, including about 55,000 central
paramilitary troopers and about 10,000 men of the Provincial Armed
Constabulary (PAC) as well as police personnel, are maintaining
law and order at 18,083 polling stations and surrounding areas.
The candidates include 796 men and 65 women.
Officials said 2,123 polling stations are "sensitive" and 3,423
The last round of the seven-phase elections will be held March 3
and the votes counted March 6.
Prominent among those who are in the fray in the first phase are
the sons of two Congress MPs, Jagdambika Pal and Beni Prasad Verma,
who is also the union steel minister. While Abhishek Pal is
contesting from Basti, Rakesh Verma has been fielded from
This phase is also seen as an acid test for Congress star
campaigner Rahul Gandhi, who has travelled and campaigned
extensively along with Beni Prasad Verma in the area that has a
substantial OBC vote of which Verma is regarded as a popular face.