720 candidates are in the fray in this phase in UP with a maximum of 22 from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura.
Lucknow/Dehradun: Polling began this morning in 67 Assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh figuring in the second phase of voting and in 69 seats in Uttarakhand.
54.27 per cent turnout of voters was recorded till 2 pm in 67 Assembly constituencies across 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh figuring in the second phase polling on Wednesday.
The districts where polling is on, amid tight security arrangements, are Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun.
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.
Official sources said polling was dull initially but picked up as the day wore on.
They said till midday there was no report of any untoward incident and polling was going on smoothly.
"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.
Muslim women in burqas were seen outside several booths, while the picture of a newly married couple going to cast vote in Bareilly went viral on social media.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for free and fair polling with deployment of 51,771 police constables, 52,598 homeguards, 5,397 sub-inspectors and 3,666 head constables 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.
In this phase, 720 candidates are in the fray with a maximum of 22 from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura (Amroha).
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 have campaigned extensively in these constituencies.
This time, Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a three-way contest among Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, BJP and BSP.
While the Samajwadi Party seeks to retain power albeit with Congress prop, BSP and BJP hope to regain power in the state after five and 13 years respectively.
The Election Commission has barred political parties and candidates from publishing advertisements in newspapers today and tomorrow without its approval.
The poll body has asked them to get the advertisements pre-certified from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee at the state and district levels before publication.
The decision has been taken in view of past instances of advertisements of offending and misleading nature in print media on such occasions which vitiate the elections.
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.
Polling began to the 69 of the 70 assembly seats of Uttarakhand amid tight security today with people queuing up outside polling booths since early morning to cast their votes. The hill state recorded a voter turnout of 53 per cent till 3 pm.
Polling schedule for Karnaprayag seat in Chamoli district has been revised to March 9 due to the death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi in a road accident on Sunday last.
Over 74 lakh voters will seal the fate of 628 candidates in EVM machines between 8 AM to 5 PM when polling concludes, state Election office informed.
All arrangements are in place to ensure free and fair elections in the state with a deployment of nearly 30,000 security personnel and 60,000 polling officials on a total of 10,685 booths across Uttarakhand out of which 460 are in snowbound areas.
On most of the seats ruling Congress and BJP are locked in straight contests but rebel candidates of both parties who have entered the fray as independents may play a crucial role in upsetting the calculations of the official nominees of their respective parties.
12 former Congress MLAs contesting as BJP candidates and two former BJP MLAs travelling in Congress boat have made these elections interesting.
Chief Minister Harish Rawat who is seeking a second stint in office is contesting from two seats, Haridwar (rural) and Kichha in Udhamsingh Nagar district.
BJP heavyweight Satpal Maharaj is contesting from Chaubatakhal whereas Pradesh BJP president Ajay Bhatt is battling it out in Ranikhet.
Making corruption its main poll plank BJP has asked people to vote for change whereas Congress is seeking a second term in power to carry out unfinished development work.