Lucknow, May 7 :
Voters queued up early Wednesday at polling booths in Uttar Pradesh’s 15 parliamentary constituencies that are balloting. Officials said the voting has been peaceful and brisk in the initial hours.
No untoward incident was reported from anywhere and voting was going on smoothly, Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told IANS.
Wednesday’s voting would seal the fate of 243 candidates, prominent among whom are Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, late Sanjay Gandhi’s son and BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi, union minister Beni Prasad Verma and Ameeta Singh, wife of senior Congress leader Sanjay Singh.
Rahul Gandhi is seeking re-election from Amethi where he is pitted against Aam Aadmi Party’s poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas and Bharatiya Janata Party’s TV actress-turned-politician Smriti Irani.
State Congress president Nirmal Khatri is candidate from Faizabad, which was seat of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Both BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed an election rally each in Faizabad.
By-polls from two state assembly constituencies – Rampur Khas and Vishwanathganj – are also being held simultaneously.
This phase of polling is crucial for the Congress as it held seven of the 15 seats that have gone to vote Wednesday.
Fearing intimidation and use of muscle power, election officials have placed some leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress under preventive house detention.
Poll officials fear the rising mercury could deter voters from turning up in large numbers to vote, and have urged people to come out and exercise their franchise.
In the last four phases of polling, an average of 60 percent voting was recorded in the state.
Brisk polling in Himachal Pradesh
Brisk balloting was taking place in Himachal Pradesh Wednesday for its four Lok Sabha seats and in the by-poll for one assembly seat, officials said.
As many as 38 candidates are in the fray for the parliamentary election from Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur and Shimla constituencies.
“The voter turnout was around 17 percent by 9 a.m.,” state Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan told IANS here.
Voting began at 7 a.m. at most polling stations and there was no report of any electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunction, he said.
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma were among the early voters.
State’s oldest voter, Shyam Saran Negi, 97, and his wife Hira Mani also exercised their franchise in a picturesque hamlet in Kinnaur district.
The main contenders include Shanta Kumar of the BJP in Kangra and Congress candidate Pratibha Singh from Mandi. Incumbent BJP MPs from Hamirpur and Shimla, Anurag Singh Thakur and Virender Kashyap, are re-contesting from their respective constituencies.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the BJP bagged three seats, while Congress leader Virbhadra Singh won the Mandi seat.
Virbhadra Singh surrendered his seat in 2012 when he became the chief minister and his wife Pratibha Singh was elected as an MP in the by-poll.
Polling is being held at 7,382 polling stations. Over 4.8 million electors are eligible to vote.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the state saw 58.43 percent polling while the 2012 assembly polls, the state saw a record turnout of 73.51 percent.