The districts where polling were held included Bijnor, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun. A total of 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 in the second of the seven-phase polling.
“Polling was held peacefully amid tight security,” UP Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh said. The CEO office said the average turnout was over 65 per cent in these seats.
The voter turnout in the first phase was recorded at 64.2 per cent, an increase of nearly three per cent from the first phase turnout in the 2012 state Assembly polls. At Bareilly, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s 115-year-old grandfather Z H Kazmi cast his ballot assisted by his family members. At certain places, long queues were seen outside polling stations.
First time voters were seen enthusiastic, taking selfies and proudly showing off the indelible ink imprint on their fingers. Of the 67 seats at stake, the ruling Samajwadi Party had won 34 seats in the 2012 polls, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress three and others two.
In the present phase, 721 candidates, including 62 women are in the fray. The maximum candidates (22) are from Barhapur (Bijnor) and a minimum of four nominees from Dhanaura. The 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, BJP Legislature Party leader Suresh Kumar Khanna from Shahjahanpur city and state minister Mehboob Ali from Amroha.
Elaborate arrangements were 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. The upcoming 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.
Odisha winds up seconds phase with 73 per cent
The second phase of Panchayat elections in Odisha was held amid tight security and registered a 73 per cent voter turnout.
“An average of 73 per cent voters cast their votes. Though there were some reports of stray incidents, polling was by and large peaceful,” state EC Rabinarayan Senapati told.
While Dhenkanal district reported the highest of 84 per cent voter turnout, the Maoist-hit Malkangiri district registered the lowest 64 per cent of polling, Senapati said adding, incidents like ballot paper snatching and disruption of polling have been reported. He said the SEC has sought reports from the district authorities concerned.
“Repolling, if any, will be held after receiving the District Collectors’ reports. No polling is now planned in the areas where people have boycott elections,” Senapati said.
The second phase of polling was held in 174 Zilla Parishad zones under 65 blocks in 29 districts, while the candidate at Polsara Zilla Parishad in Ganjam district won uncontested. In the Maoist-hit Malkangiri district, no one turned up to cast their votes in 13 booths in a gram panchayat under Korkonda block, officials said.