Scanty voting so far in first phase of UP polls

Lucknow, Feb 11:  Voting started at a slow pace in the 73 assembly constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh on Saturday morning. The turnout in the first hour was poor with mostly youngsters seen casting their ballots.

Polling was delayed due to technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs) at four polling stations -- Sardhana, Baghpat, Hathras and Noida.

Four booth level officers (BLOs) did not turn up at Dayalbagh in Agra, delaying the polling by over 40 minutes, an official said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates Shrikant Sharma and Sangeet Som cast their votes in their respective constituencies of Mathura and Sardhana. 

Sharma is a BJP national spokesman and is contesting polls for the first time while Som is a controversial figure for his alleged role in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. He is also the incumbent legislator from Sardhana.

The maximum number of 26 candidates are contesting from Agra South, while there are six each from Hastinapur, Iglas and Loni.

Amid heightened fears of poll violence, heavy security deployment was made in sensitive areas -- Shamli, Aligarh, Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Bulandshahr and Agra. 

In all, 826 companies of central forces were stationed for the first phase of polling.

In the 2012 assembly polls, of the 73 seats -- Samajwadi Party had won 24 seats, Bahujan Samaj Party 23, BJP 12, Rashtriya Lok Dal nine and Congress five seats. 

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won all the 12 seats here.

There are 2.59 crore voters who are exercising there franchise on Saturday of which 1.42 crore are men, 1.17 crore women and 1,511 from the third gender.