Lucknow, Feb 23: An estimated 12 to 15 per cent of voters turned out to exercise their franchise till 10 AM during the fourth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh today.
Polling is on for 53 Assembly constituencies spread over 12 districts, including the backward Bundelkhand region. The pace of voting was initially slow but picked up gradually as the day advanced, the office of UP Chief Electoral Officer said here.
Around 12 to 15 per cent polling was recorded in the first three hours, the CEO office said, adding that the exercise was by and large peaceful.
Assembly segments in Congress President Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency are among the seats where the electoral exercise is taking place. However, in a first since 1998, Gandhi gave campaigning a miss in her constituency.
Other districts where polling is going on in this phase amid tight security are Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda, Hamirpur, Chitrakoot and Fatehpur.
Backward and water-scarce Bundelkhand region also figures in this phase.
Inter district and inter state borders have been sealed. Patrolling by security forces has been intensified in poll-bound areas and most of the polling centres are manned by the central Paramilitary Forces.
The fate of 680 candidates will be decided by 1.84 crore voters including 84 lakh women and 1,032 persons belonging to the third gender.
The maximum number of candidates (26) are in Allahabad North, while only six candidates are in fray in Khaga (Fatehpur), Manjhanpur (Kaushambi) and Kunda (Pratapgarh).
BSP has fielded its nominees in all seats, while BJP's nominees are in 48 constituencies. BJP has left 6 seats for its ally Apna Dal. SP nominees are in contest in 30 segments and its ally Congress is in contest from 25 constituencies.
In 2012 polls, out of the 53 seats in this phase, Samajwadi Party had won 24, BJP 5, Bahujan Samaj Party 15, Congress 6 and others had got 3.
Prominent contestants include sitting MLA from Rampur Khas (Pratapgarh) Aradhana Mishra who is the daughter of Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, and Independent MLA and minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who is again contesting from his traditional Kunda (Pratapgarh) seat.
In Rae Bareli, Aditi Singh is contesting on a Congress ticket, BSP turncoat Swami Prasad Maurya's son Utkarsh Maurya is in fray from Unchahar seat, while Leader of Opposition Gaya Charan Dinkar is contesting from Naraini (Banda) seat. Senior SP leader Reoti Raman Singh's son Ujjwal Raman Singh is in the race from Karchana (Allahabad) seat. Elections for UP legislative assembly are being held in seven phases, with three more on February 27, March 4 and 8 to follow after today's polling. Election results will be out on March 11.