Amid stray incidents of violence around 64.95% electorate exercised their franchise in Uttar Pradesh's first phase polling in ten constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh.
The voters turned out in large numbers, surpassing the 2009 percentage of 51, in this communally polarized region.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umesh Sinha told journalists on Thursday evening that polling percentage in the seats was: Saharanpur (73.43), Kairana (69.40), Muzaffarnagar (68.27), Bijnaur(66.05) Meerut (63.80), Baghpat(67.20) Ghaziabad(60) Gautam Buddha Nagar (62.67 ), Bulandshahr (67.10) and Aligarh (61.60).
Despite high sensitivity prevailing in the region polling was, by and large, peaceful. In four-cornered contests on almost all the seats, which could prove trend- setters for the other phases, caste and communal polarisation was palpable during polling in the region.
While the well-entrenched Muslim vote appeared to be divided, there were also reports of migration of Dalit and Jat votes from their traditional parties BSP and RLD respectively to BJP.
Coming out of polling station after voting in village Jogikhera (Muzaffarnagar), Nasim Ahmad said: "I have voted for development and security". But Rahul, a dalit student in Meerapur (Bijnore), said he had voted for the BJP. However, Azim Ali of Porebaliyan in Muzaffarnagar, lauding the Akhilesh Yadav government for distributing laptops and adequate compensation to riot victims other welfare schemes, said he had voted for the SP.
The fate of stalwarts like Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh (Baghpat), film actress turned politician Jaya Prada (RLD-Bijnaur), Imran Masood (Congress-Saharanpur), Raj Babbar (Congress-Ghaziabad), Shazia Ilmi (AAP-Ghaziabad), film actress Nagma (Congress-Meerut) minister Shahid Manzoor (SP-Meerut) were sealed in electronic voting machines (EVMs) after Thursday's voting.
In view of prevailing communal sensitivity after September riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, the state police had taken extra precautionary measures in the areas. However, there were reports of clashes between RLD and BJP supporters in Malakpur village in Baghpat constituency. There was also a clash between supporters of Rashtriya Lok Dal and BJP during the visit of BJP candidate Satpal Singh at the polling station.
According to information, the car of Singh was damaged. The situation was brought under control after more security force was rushed from adjoining villages. Also, SP and BSP and AAP and BJP workers clashed at two places in Meerut.
Of the total 146 candidates, prominent contestants whose fate will be decided are Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh (Baghpat), film actress-turned politician Jaya Prada (RLD-Bijnaur), Imran Masood (Congress-Saharanpur), Raj Babbar (Congress-Ghaziabad), Shazia Ilmi (AAP-Ghaziabad), film actress Nagma (Congress-Meerut) and Shahid Manzoor (SP-Meerut).
The additional director general (law and order) Mukul Goel said adequate security arrangements had been made in constituencies and a tight vigil is being maintained in the entire region.
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