A voter turnout of nearly 52 per cent was recorded in the first phase of the urban local body elections in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.
The voting commenced at 7 am and ended at 6 pm.
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), Varanasi recorded a polling percentage of 40.58, Lucknow 38.62 and Prayagraj 33.61.
The highest voting percentage was reported in Maharajganj (66.48), followed by Shamli (65.02), Kushinagar 64.11 and Amroha (63.41), according to a press statement issued by the SEC.
A polling percentage of 52.59 was recorded in the first phase of the 2017 urban local body elections. The polls were held in three phases in 2017 and the overall polling percentage was 53.
While the polling was peaceful at most of the places, incidents of violence and stone-pelting were reported from Amroha district of western Uttar Pradesh.
According to police, at least half-a-dozen people were injured in stone pelting. Amroha District Magistrate Bal Krishna Tripathi told PTI, "An argument occurred between the supporters of two political parties at a polling booth in Gajraula. It escalated into stone-pelting after which additional police forces were rushed to the spot to control the situation." According to police, the miscreants damaged three buses deployed on poll duty. Police have lodged a case regarding the matter and initiated investigation. According to the statement, re-polling was held in ward number 3 (Samsher Nagar) of Chandauli due to errors in the candidates' names in the ballot paper. Voters in 37 districts exercised their franchise to elect 7,593 representatives, including 10 mayors and 820 corporators, the SEC said.
The districts where mayoral elections were held in the first phase are Saharanpur, Agra, Moradabad, Firozabad, Mathura, Jhansi, Prayagraj, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Varanasi.
More than 2.4 crore people were eligible to vote in the first phase, the officials said.
In the first phase, polling was held for 103 posts of nagar palika parishad chairperson, 2,740 nagar palika parishad members, 275 nagar panchayat chairpersons and 3,645 nagar panchayat members.
A total of 44,232 candidates were in the fray.
SEC officials said 85 representatives, including 10 corporators, were elected unopposed.
These elections will pose a key test for the parties ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is the Lucknow MP, cast his vote at a booth in Gomti Nagar here. Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak, former deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati also cast their votes in Lucknow.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya voted in Prayagraj.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who cast his vote in Gorakhpur, was the first voter at his Gorakhnath Kanya Prathmik Vidyalaya booth near Jhulelal. He reached the booth at 7.01 am.
Talking to reporters in Gorakhpur, Adityanath said, "The weather is pleasant in May. I think it is the god's blessing so that people can elect a good urban government. The SEC has made all the necessary arrangements for the elections. I appeal to everyone to cast their votes." "Yaad rahe, pehle matdan, phir jalpan (vote first, breakfast later)," he said, using a catch-phrase given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls last year.
After casting his vote, Adityanath started campaigning for the second and final phase of the elections, voting for which will be held on May 11. He campaigned in Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Siddharthnagar and Basti.
Speaking to reporters after casting her vote at a school at Mall Avenue here, Mayawati said, "Our party is contesting these polls alone. I hope that it gets a good response and the results are good." On reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines at some places in Lucknow, District Magistrate Suryapal Gangwar said all such EVMs were replaced.
In Mainpuri, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Virendra Kumar Mittal, who was the returning officer of Nagar Panchayat Jyoti Khudia, died due to a suspected heart attack, Additional District Magistrate Ramji Misra told PTI.
In Rampur, senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan and his former MLA son Abdullah Azam Khan could not cast their votes due to the removal of their names from the voters' list.
Azam's wife Tazeen Fatma and the family members of his elder son Adeeb Azam Khan cast their votes.
Earlier, Special Director General of Police, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar, said the polling was going on peacefully and there was "no report" of any untoward incident anywhere.
Wherever there were reports of EVM malfunctioning, the machines were changed, he said.
However, in Maharajganj, the supporters of a BJP and a Congress candidate clashed with each other near a house in Nichlaul town. The two groups accused each other of distributing money among the voters, police said.
The supporters of the candidates left the area before the arrival of police, they added.
According to a report from Prayagraj, where gangster-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf were shot dead last month, polling in the city's hyper-sensitive areas of Chakia, Kareli and Khuldabad was held peacefully.
Following the killing of Ahmad and Ashraf, additional police personnel were deployed in the city and CCTVs were installed at 67 places.
The India-Nepal border was sealed at 6 pm on Tuesday. Security personnel are maintaining a strict vigil, but allowing people who need to attend weddings or have some emergency work to pass.
Paramilitary and police personnel are continuously patrolling the Indo-Nepal border. Soldiers are carrying out pillar-to-pillar mobile duty for the security of the open border, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) border outpost in-charge Jayant Ghosh said.
The counting of votes for the two phases of the urban local body elections will be taken up on May 13.
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