Over 25 per cent of the electorate cast their votes till noon in the second phase polling in 67 Assembly constituencies across 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
720 candidates are in the fray in the districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun, where polling is on.
In the second of seven-phase election, 2.28 crore voters, including over 1.04 crore women, are eligible to cast their ballots in 14,771 polling centres and 23,693 polling stations.
Initially the polling was dull, but picked up as the day wore on, reports said. Turnout scaled to 60% until 4 pm.
“Polling is going on peacefully at all polling stations. We are keeping a close vigil. The poll percentage is likely to increase as the day proceeds,” UP Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh said.
At certain places long queues were seen outside polling stations.
First time voters were found to be enthusiastic, taking selfies proudly showing indelible ink imprint on their fingers.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for free and fair polling. 51,771 police constables, 52,598 homeguards, 5,397 sub-inspectors and 3,666 head constables have been deployed to maintain law and order.
Of the 67 seats at stake, ruling Samajwadi Party had won 34 in 2012, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress three and others two.
Prominent contestants include controversial SP minister Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam, who are contesting from Rampur and Swar seats respectively, Saif Ali Naqvi, son of former Congress MP Zafar Ali Naqvi, former central minister Jitin Prasada from Tilhar (Shahjahanpur), BJP Legislature Party leader Suresh Kumar Khanna from Shahjahanpur city and state minister Mehboob Ali from Amroha.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had campaigned extensively in some of these constituencies in the run up to the polls.
This time, Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a three-way contest – the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, BJP and BSP.
UP will see a seven phase poll this time. The next five phases of polling will be held on February 19, 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes will be taken up on March 11.
(With inputs from PTI)