Around 51-52 per cent voting was recorded in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh civic polls today amid reports of stray cases of EVM malfunctioning and disputes over names of voters missing from the list.
"51-52 per cent polling this time in the 25 districts, which went to the polls today, shows a jump over the previous turnout of 43.67," State Election Commissioner S K Agarwal told reporters at the close of the polling hours.
The polling passed off peacefully, he added.
Braving the early morning chill, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma cast their votes in Lucknow, where drones were deployed to keep a hawk-eyed vigil on the marathon exercise.
The fate of the candidates in the second phase would be decided by 1.3 crore voters.
In the state capital, Rajnath Singh cast his vote along with his wife and family members, including son Pankaj Singh who is a legislator.
Sharma, who voted with his wife in the Aishbagh area, said, "The BJP is committed to working for the people and the opposition should realise that it was the people's love and trust which had ensured the party's victory in the Assembly polls. In the civic polls too, the party is going to win."
Agarwal also exercised his franchise and appealed to the people to cast their votes.
"If you want basic amenities in your city, you should come out of your homes and vote in large numbers," he said.
Another Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya, voted in Allahabad.
The polling for the first phase on November 22 had seen a 52.59-per cent voter turnout. In the 2012 civic polls, the polling percentage was 46.1 in these districts.
Interestingly, the voters of the state capital today cast ballots to elect their first woman mayor in 100 years as the Lucknow mayoral seat was reserved for women.
The prominent contestants in a field of 19 were Sayukta Bhatia (BJP), Prema Awasthi (Congress), Bulbul Godiyal (BSP), Priyanka Maheshwari (AAP) and Meera Vardhan (SP).
At certain places, there were complaints regarding malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), but the machines were replaced quickly and the polling continued without any disruption, Agarwal said.
There were also complaints of voters' names missing from the list at a few places.
SP president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted saying that as per media reports, names of a lot of voters were missing from the list.
"This type of digital India cannot take us forward," the tweet read.
The districts which went to polls today are Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Amroha, Rampur, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Aligarh, Mathura, Etawah, Mainpuri (SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's bastion), Farrukhabad, Lalitpur, Banda, Allahabad, Lucknow, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Deoria, Ballia, Bhadohi and Varanasi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency).
Muslim voters are a force to reckon with in
Muzaffarnagar, Amroha, Rampur, Aligarh, Bahraich and Bhadohi.
The last and final phase of polling will be held on November 29 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 1.
The ongoing urban local body election, involving over 3.3 crore voters in 75 districts of the state, is being seen as a test for the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government.
State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said, "The feedback we had received from the party workers after the voting ended in the first phase was indeed very encouraging. The BJP is going to bag three-fourths of all the seats in these polls."
The stakes are equally high for other parties, including the Congress, SP and BSP, which are hoping to make a comeback after their drubbing in the Assembly polls earlier this year.
The BSP is contesting the local body polls on the party symbol after 17 years.