An impressive 62 to 64% turnout was today registered in the first phase of Assembly elections in 55 seats in Uttar Pradesh where stakes are high for Mayawati's ruling BSP which is facing a tough challenge from Congress, BJP and SP.
After an initial lull due to rain, polling picked up quickly around midday as the skies cleared with 62-64% of the 1.7 crore-strong electorate casting ballot on an incident-free day, Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha said.
Today's polling was spread over 10 districts -- Sitapur, Barabanki, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddharth Nagar and Basti and held under tight security.
The first phase of elections for the 403-member assembly will decide the fate of two ministers, 31 MLAs and 15 former ministers. There are in all 796 men, 65 women and one eunuch in the fray.
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," Sinha said.
Amidst complaints of EVM malfunctioning, a lower turnout was registered in Bahraich district, while in Sitapur 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.