Phase 1: 60.25% voter turnout on eight west UP seats - Hindustan Times
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Phase 1: 60.25% voter turnout on eight west UP seats

ByS Raju
Apr 20, 2024 06:24 AM IST

Highest polling in Saharanpur - 65 95% and lowest in Rampur - 54.77%; polling peaceful, barring few complaints of EVM malfunction, booth capturing and omission of voters’ names

MEERUT An estimated 60.25% of the 1.44 crore electorate exercised their franchise in eight parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh in phase 1 of the Lok Sabha elections on Friday. Polling remained peaceful, barring a few complaints of EVM malfunction, booth capturing and omission of voters’ names from the list.

Voters seen standing in queue to cast their votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 at a polling station in Muzaffarnagar, on Friday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo)
Voters seen standing in queue to cast their votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections 2024 at a polling station in Muzaffarnagar, on Friday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT Photo)

According to the Election Commission’s Voter Turnout app, 65.95% voting was reported in Saharanpur, 60.60% in Moradabad, 61.17% in Kairana, 59.54% in Nagina, 61.91% in Pilibhit, 58.21% in Bijnor, 54.77% in Rampur and 59.29 % in Muzaffarnagar.

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“Polling was completely peaceful and no information of any untoward incident was received,” UP’s chief electoral officer Navdeep Rinwa said.

He said 50 ballot units, 50 control units and 152 VVPATs were changed till 5pm following complaints from various districts.

The fate of 80 candidates, including 73 men and seven women, was sealed during the day. The prominent candidates in this phase of polling included the BJP’s Jitin Prasada from Pilibhit, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan from Muzaffarnagar and Azad Samaj Party chief Chandrashekhar Azad from Nagina.

Heavy security arrangements were in place outside polling booths to ensure fair and peaceful polling. Jawans of paramilitary forces were also deployed along with the police.

Candidates of different political parties blamed the police for “slow polling” citing “unnecessarily checking of ID proofs of voters in violation of EC’s direction.” A few claimed that farmers were busy in their fields due to harvesting season of wheat crop that led to slow voting till afternoon.

Long queues of voters were seen at polling booths in Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Nagina, Saharanpur since morning. Polling started at 7am and voters arrived at booths before polling started. A labourer, Mohd Naseem, said he waited for over an hour to cast his vote. At another booth, labourer Aftab lodged a similar complaint. “We are labourers and arrived early to vote because we have to go to work,” they said, accusing the polling staff of deliberately delaying polling.

Independent candidate in Nagina constituency Chandrashekhar Azad, SP candidates - Harendra Malik in Muzaffarnagar, Iqra Hasan in Kairana and Maulana Nadvi in Rampur accused the police and administration officials of stopping voters from casting their votes despite having the required ID proofs.

Harendra Malik claimed booth capturing in BJP candidate and union minister Sanjeev Balyan’s village - Kutba in Muzaffarnagar - and wrote a letter to the Election Commission demanding deployment of paramilitary forces for a fair election

He also alleged that Balyan called 400 men from neighbouring Haryana “with a plan to capture booths.” Refuting the charges, Balyan said: “He (Malik) is losing the contest and that’s why levelling such baseless charges.”

The issues of anti-social elements at booth number 847 in Moradabad Constituency and missing names of Muslims voters on the list in booth number 129 of Rampur were also raised.

District authorities of respective constituencies, however, claimed that malfunctioning EVMs were immediately replaced, and officials were sent to booths from where complaints of voters being stopped were received.

SP candidate in Kairana Iqra Hasan sought additional time for voting where polling was delayed due to malfunction of EVMs and accused the police of compelling burqa-clad women at booths to show faces.

Regarding slow voting in the morning, Iqra said its harvesting season of wheat crop and farmers get involved in work since early morning to avoid working in the heat. “I hope polling will increase in the evening,” she said. BKU chief Naresh Tikait also showed his concern for slow voting and attributed harvesting season as one of the reasons behind it. He decided to cast his vote in the evening.

People of Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Rampur, Moradabad and Pilibhit constituencies cast their votes in the first phase of polling on Friday.

A total of 7,693 polling centres and 14,845 booths were put up across eight constituencies in which 65,380 polling staff were deputed with 18,660 EVM control units and 18,734 ballot units.

Eight general observers, five police observers, 10 expense observers, 1,272 sector magistrates, 150 zonal magistrates, 103 static magistrates and1,861 micro-observers were deputed for fair and peaceful polling.

A helicopter was also kept ready for any emergency and helpline number 18001801950 was released for lodging complaints and seeking help during polling.

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