Polling for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh civic body elections began on Wednesday morning at 7 am.
The civic polls in Uttar Pradesh will be a key test for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as they would indicate whether the priest-turned-politician has been able to ensure that the BJP continues to maintain its popularity.
The BJP's victory in these polls would be seen as a stamp of approval for the Adityanath government. In 2012, the BJP swept these polls, winning 10 of the 12 mayoral posts.
The districts going to polls in the first phase are Shamli, Meerut, Hapur, Bijnore, Badaun, Hathras, Kasganj, Agra, Kanpur, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot, Kaushambi, Pratapgarh, Unnao, Hardoi, Amethi, Faizabad, Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Sonebhadra.
Here are the highlights till 2 pm:
The voter turnout in the first half of the UP civic polls was generally low.
Bijnor recorded 17 percent turnout till 12 pm. Bahsuma, Phalavada and Hastinapur recorded 27.3 percent, 31 percent and 21.1 percent voter turnout till 11.30 am.
The overall voter turnout in Meerut was 16 percent till 12 pm, according to 101Reporters. In Agra, 12 percent voting took place till 10 am. Kanpur and Gorakhpur saw 31 percent and 23 percent voting till 1 pm respectively.
Voter turnout in Basti and Hathras till around 10 am was 9 percent and 10 percent respectively.
Technical glitches, EVM malfunction, missing names
According to ANI, there were glitches in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) of three booths in Kanpur's Mani Ram Bagia ward number 104. However, the voting there resumed after some time.
101Reporters also said that there was a delay in polling in booth number 606 in Agra due to malfunction in the EVM, angering many voters.
It was also reported that some candidates and agents entered the booth with their mobile phones in Kheragarh and Jagner, following which the mobile phones were seized by the authorities. Because of cancellation of names in some of the new lists, some voters got angry.
The EVM at Section 562 in ward number 55 at south DUJ Inter college in Gorakhpur had not been working for around one-and-a-half-hours. Long queues formed there because till 10.10 am, not a single vote was cast.
Three people were also detained in Meerut for trying to forcibly enter the polling booth.
Moreover, the names of former MP Anu Tandon and MP Sakshi Maharaj were found missing from voters' list. Sakshi Maharaj branded this a conspiracy.
Ruckus in Meerut
There was ruckus at ward number 89 in Meerut after voters alleged that EVMs were casting votes only for BJP, irrespective of which button was pressed. However, additional State Election Commissioner Ved Prakash Verma told Firstpost the allegations were false.
Police had to resort to lathicharge as result of chaos at ward number 81 of Summer Garden when a BJP MP tried to cut the queue and BSP leader Yogesh Varma objected.
Candidates showering voters with gifts
A survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said that candidates in the Uttar Pradesh civic polls are gifting voters footballs and brass utensils, among other things.
The Indian Express reported that some mayoral candidates in Jhansi were found gifting voters through online portals.
The survey also said that out of 195 candidates, 20 had criminal cases against them.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 14:56 PM