LUCKNOW: The first phase of polling across eight parliamentary constituencies of Western UP witnessed a respectable 64 per cent turn out of voters till 6 pm on Thursday. In the previous 2014 election same set of seats had recorded slightly higher 66 per cent polling percentage.
Brisk polling was observed across all eight seats including Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar. However, it slowed down in afternoon, but picked up again towards the evening with voters, mostly first-timers, lining up in long queues outside several polling centres. As per the figures released by chief election office, Saharanpur recorded maximum voter turnout at 70.68 per cent, while the least turnout was reported from Ghaziabad where it stood at 57.60 per cent.
Muzaffarnagar witnessed second highest voters; turnout with 66.66 per cent followed by Bijnor at 65.40 per cent. In Meerut and Baghpat, 63 per cent and 63.90 per cents voters exercised their franchise respectively. The voting percentage in Kairana was 62.10 per cent. Three Union ministers -- V K Singh (Ghaziabad), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat) and Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddha Nagar) – were in fray. BJP had won all eight seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, it lost Kairana in 2018 by-poll.
The voting in western UP remained by and large peaceful barring a few skirmishes between security forces and voters at some places. At a Kairana polling booth, a BSF jawan fired into the air to disperse some people, who were not carrying their identity cards and were trying to forcibly enter the booth to cast vote, police said. The incident took place at a polling booth in Rasoolpur Gujran village under Kandhla police station around noon.
“Before things could get out of hand, the forces took action and allowed polling to proceed peacefully. It was held up for only half an hour. A police case has been filed,” he said.
In Muzaffarnagar, BJP MP Sanjeev Balyan raised a finger at the absence of lady security personnel to cross-check the identity of burqa-clad women at poll stations. He even demanded the EC wither to arrange women security staff or allow the cops to do the job.
“If someone comes in a burqa, whether the same person is coming four or five times, how will you check,” Balyan told media persons in Muzaffarnagar. Some security personnel on election duty in Noida were served meals in packets labelled “Namo Foods”, drawing flak from the opposition and the matter was taken to the ECI. However, giving clarification over the controversy, UP CEO said: “We looked into the matter and found that NaMo is the brand name of a food outlet that has been functioning since the past 7-8 years. It is just mere coincidence that the name is NaMo.”
In the first phase, 1.51 crore voters including 82 lakh men and over 68 lakh women. In all 16,518 booths were set up inside 6,716 polling centres to decide the fate of 96 candidates.