Voting begins on Saturday morning in the first of the staggered seven-phase assembly elections in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
Polling is taking place in 73 of the state’s 403 assembly constituencies, spread across 15 districts in the western part of the state. A total of 839 candidates are in the fray. Around 2.59 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. Of the total, 1.42 crore are men, 1.17 crore women and 1,511 are from the third gender.
Read | Uttar Pradesh election: Voting today for first phase in the big battle of the ballot
In the 2012 assembly polls, of the 73 seats — SP had won 24, BSP 23, BJP 12, Rashtriya Lok Dal 9 and the Congress 5 seats. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won all the 12 seats in the region. The region was earlier a stronghold of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and whether she gets the CM’s chair or not will depend on how the BSP does in these 73 seats.
Follow live updates here:
9:20am: Altercation between SP candidate Shokindra Tomar and RLD leaders reported at booth no 183 of Veer Smarak Inter College in Baraut constituency. The police had to intervene and disperse the crowd.
9:10am: The average polling rate in Ghaziabad district is 13% till 9 am. In Firozabad and Agra, it’s 12% and Noida is at 7%. Muzaffarnagar recorded the highest voting in the first two hours at 15%.
8:50am: 45-year-old Munesh at sector 22 polling booth along with her husband Rajveer, 50, to cast their votes. Both are differently-abled and this time the couple has voted to see a change in their lives. They have never received pension disbursed by the government for the differently-abled.
8:45am: Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav’s joint press conference in Lucknow is scheduled at 9.15 am in Lucknow. They will release a common agenda.
Read | Brother murdered for sympathy votes, donkey candidate: Five most bizarre UP election stories
8:30am: Candidate from Mathura and national secretary of BJP Srikant Sharma cast his vote in village of Mathura.
Home minister Rajnath Singh’s son and BJP candidate from Noida, Pankaj Singh visits the Government Degree College polling station in Noida. Contesting from Noida assembly constituency on a BJP ticket, he went to many polling stations and checked the process. Many people complained to him that their name is not in the electorate list.
“I am visiting polling stations to see that people are not facing any difficulty,” Pankaj Singh told HT.
#UttarPradesh | A model polling booth at Balram Nagar in Loni segment, Ghaziabad
Follow #upelections2017 LIVE https://t.co/X1S4ihWTKk pic.twitter.com/UNNGARMUv3— Hindustan Times (@htTweets)February 11, 2017
8:20am: Ghaziabad district magistrate Nidhi Kesarwani and SSP Deepak Kumar cast their vote at Ghaziabad’s Ingraham College.
24-year-old Shrey Kumar was up at 6 am to caste vote at polling station in sector 39. This was his first vote for state assembly elections and he tells HT that he is irked by the snail-pace of development in Noida.
8:10am: Faulty EVM delays voting in Noida’s Navada village. There are 1,500 voters that fall under this booth.
8:00am: Samajwadi Party candidate Sunil Chaudhary and family cast their vote at sector 19 polling booth. He is contesting against Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj (BJP) and Ravikant Mishra of the BSP.
7:40am: In Agra, Shubam Choubey was first voter at booth no. 99. Voters began queuing up at polling booth early on Saturday morning. Polling has begun as some constituencies, slightly delayed at others in Agra’s nine seats.
Shubam Choubey, one of Agra’s first voters. (Hemendra Chaturvedi/Hindustan Times)
7:30am: Polling delayed in booth no.42 in Mathura’s Govardhan, and in booths 119 and 120 in Baghpat as the Electronic Voting Machines are not working, reports ANI.
7:10am: Voters cast their ballot in Bisada, Noida sector 15 and other constituencies as the first phase begins:
Dadri: Polling underway in Bishada, people cast their votes #uppolls2017 pic.twitter.com/5YEC0AxX5l— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP)February 11, 2017
7:00am: Voting begins in the 73 assembly seats in phase one of elections in Uttar Pradesh.
(With agency inputs)