Lucknow/Dehradun: Polling began in Uttarakhand and in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections amid tight security on Wednesday with people queueing up outside polling booths since early morning to cast their votes.
UP saw 10.5 per cent voters exercising their franchise till 9 am in the 67 Assembly constituencies across 11 districts of the western part of the state.
The districts where polling is on are Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun.
On an average, over 10.5 per cent votes were polled in first two hours till 9 am, office of UP Chief Electoral officer said here.
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.
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 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.
Owing to inclement weather in some parts of Uttarakhand, voting in the Assembly elections was slow in the first few hours, with 14 per cent voter turnout till 11 am.
According to an election official, eight per cent voting was reported in the first two hours after voting began at 8 am for 69 seats in 11 districts in the first phase of the Uttarakhand Assembly elections.
Prominent politicians such as former Chief Ministers Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank and Bhuvan Singh Khanduri voted in the early hours.
According to the Election Commission (EC), Champawat saw two per cent voting, Haridwar witnessed nine per cent and so did the state capital Dehradun.
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.
The Election Commission has barred political parties and candidates from publishing advertisements in newspapers today and tomorrow without its approval. The EC has asked them to get the advertisements pre-certified from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee at the state and district levels before their publication.