UP polls: Average voter turnout of 9.45 per cent recorded till 9 am
Lucknow: An average voter turnout of 9.45 per cent was recorded till 9 am on Monday in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is underway in 55 assembly seats spread across nine districts.
This is the second phase of the assembly elections in the state. Voting began at 7 am.
As many as 586 candidates are in the fray in this phase. The 55 seats are spread across Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur districts.
According to the Election Commission, Saharanpur recorded a voter turnout of 9.77 per cent till 9 am, Bijnor 10.01 per cent, Moradabad 10.03 per cent, Sambhal 10.78 per cent, Rampur 8.37 per cent, Amroha 10.83 per cent, Budaun 9.14 per cent, Bareilly 8.36 per cent and Shahjahanpur 9.18 per cent.
Of the 55 seats, the BJP had won 38 in the 2017 Assembly polls, the Samajwadi Party bagged 15 and the Congress two. The SP and the Congress had contested the last assembly elections together.
Of the 15 seats won by the SP, Muslim candidates registered victory in 10. The areas going to polls in this phase have a sizeable Muslim population influenced by religious leaders of Barelvi and Deoband sects. These areas are considered strongholds of the SP.
The prominent faces in the fray include former minister Dharam Singh Saini who joined the SP shortly before the elections. Saini is trying his luck from the Nakur seat.
Senior SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan is contesting the polls from his stronghold Rampur, while Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister Suresh Khanna is contesting from Shahjahanpur.
The SP has fielded Mohammad Azam Khan's son Abdullah Azam from the Swar seat. He is pitted against Haider Ali Khan, the heir of the Nawabs of Rampur, who is trying his luck on a ticket from the Apna Dal (Sonelal), a BJP ally.
Haider Ali Khan is the grandson of former MP Noor Bano.
Minister of State for Jal Shakti Baldev Singh Aulakh is contesting from Bilaspur, Minister of State for Urban Development Mahesh Chandra Gupta from Badaun and Minister of State for Secondary Education Gulab Devi from Chandausi.
Former Bareilly mayor Supriya Aron is contesting from Bareilly Cantonment on an SP ticket.
With the elections being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Brahmdev Ram Tripathi said all necessary arrangements have been made to ensure free, fair, transparent and Covid-safe polling.
Polling for the first phase of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls was held on February 10. The counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.