WIONLucknow, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaFeb 15, 2017, 10.00 AM
More than 65 per cent of Western Uttar Pradesh's electorate cast its vote in the second phase of polling in the state today (February 15), the Election Commission said.
"Polling was held peacefully amid tight security," UP Chief Electoral Officer T Venkatesh said.
Voting took place in 67 Assembly constituencies across 11 districts in the second phase of polling.
Polling took place at a brisk pace in the districts of Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun. It ended at 5 pm, PTI reported.
In the last assembly elections in 2012, voting for the same seats had recorded 60 per cent polling.
In the second of the 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.
At Bareilly, central minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi's 115-year-old grandfather ZU Kazmi cast his ballot.
Long queues were seen outside polling stations in some places. Enthusiastic first-time voters were spotted taking selfies proudly showing indelible ink imprint on their fingers.
Muslim women in burqas were seen outside several booths, while a picture of a newly-married couple going to cast vote in Bareilly went viral on social media.
Voter turnout, in the first phase on February 11, was recorded at 64.2 per cent - an increase of nearly three per cent from the first phase turnout in 2012.
Of the 67 seats at stake, the ruling Samajwadi Party had won 34 seats in 2012, followed by BSP's 18, BJP 10, Congress three and others two.
Prominent contestants include controversial SP minister Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam, who are contesting from Rampur and Swar, 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.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for free and fair polling with the deployment of 51,771 police constables, 52,598 homeguards, 5,397 sub-inspectors and 3,666 head constables to maintain law and order.
The Election Commission has barred political parties and candidates from publishing advertisements in newspapers today and tomorrow without its approval, PTI reported. The poll body has asked them to get advertisements pre-certified from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee at the state and district levels before their publication.
The poll body said the decision was taken in view of past instances of advertisements of "offending and misleading nature" in print media on such occasions, which vitiate the elections.
The upcoming five phases of polling will be held on February 19, 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8.