Uttar Pradesh sees 64.22% polling in first phase of assembly elections

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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh registered a turnout of 64.22% in the first phase of polling for 73 constituencies of western UP on Saturday, according to the Election Commission (EC).

Polling for the first phase of the seven phase assembly election, voting for which will end on 8 March, saw an increase from the 2012 assembly election, where a voter turnout of 61% was registered for the first phase. While Shamli district saw the highest voter turnout at 67.12%, the lowest polling was registered in Ghaziabad district at 58.10%.

The EC in a press conference on Saturday said that Rs19.56 crore cash, 4.44 lakh litre liquor worth Rs14 crore, drugs worth Rs96.93 lakh and gold and silver of Rs14 crore were seized in the first phase.

Nearly 2.6 crore people, including 1.17 crore women, across 15 districts voted for 839 candidates contested on 73 of the 403 seats in the first phase of polling.

While the incumbent Samajwadi Party (SP) government, led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, along with its ally the Congress, is fighting to retain its position, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to come back to power after a gap of 14 years.

Former chief minister Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also a key player in the three-cornered electoral fight. Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) may also prove to be a big challenger to the three key players in this phase of the election.

In the 2012 assembly election, both SP and BSP had won the maximum number of seats i.e. 24 each, followed by the BJP at 11, RLD at 9 and the Congress finishing last with five seats out of the 73 seats in this area. However, the BJP had performed exceedingly well in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in this region where none of the parties could bag any seats.

Spearheading the BJP campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pitching his party’s pro-poor and anti- graft agenda with a focus on development for all in a bid to recreate BJP’s clean sweep of the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile the SP-Congress alliance under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, with the slogan of ‘UP ko yeh saath pasand hai’ , is pitching the development work undertaken in Uttar Pradesh in the past five years, while reaching out to youth, women and minorities in the state.

The BSP, which was once the dominant party in the region, is relying on the Dalit-Muslim combine to regain its lost stronghold in the area.

The first phase of the election witnessed many prominent contestants including Pankaj Singh (Noida), son of Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Mriganka Singh (Kairana), daughter of BJP MP Hukum Singh, and controversial BJP MLAs Sangeet Som (Sardhan) and Suresh Rana (Thanabhawan ) enter the electoral fray.