New Delhi/Lucknow: The first phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections passed off “peacefully” yesterday with over 63 per cent polling recorded till 5pm. The percentage is expected to go up, the Election Commission said.

“Participation [of voters] has been exemplary. Sixty three per cent voters have cast their vote till 5pm and the number would go up as there were queues in front of the polling centres,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vijay Dev told reporters here.

Voting was continuing at some polling stations since voters who had queued up by 5pm were allowed to exercise their franchise.

He said the elections spread across 15 districts, 73 assembly constituencies, involved over 26 million voters, 839 candidates, including 73 women candidates.

He said there was no major law and order problem, and EVMs which malfunctioned at few polling booths, were replaced within no time.

“Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure free and fair elections,” he said, adding that over 200,000 security personnel were deployed at various locations across the 15 districts.

Dev said that nearly 300,000 “troublemakers” were bound down.

He said 3,888 cameras were also placed at various locations to keep watch on every activity in poll bound areas.

The Deputy Election Commissioner also said that Rs1.95 million (Dh107,480) in cash, 440,000 litre of alcohol worth Rs440,000 and gold and silver worth Rs140 million was seized before the elections.

Asked about the call for election boycott at a few places, Dev said that things were sorted out at six out of seven places where poll boycott call was given by the public dissatisfied for various reasons.

He, however, expressed satisfaction on the overall exercise of polling and thanked and congratulated all political parties and general public for their “cooperation”.

“The first phase [of elections] has set the tone for the next six phases,” he said

The polling percentage in the region has bettered the past two elections of 2007 and 2012, an election official in Lucknow told IANS based on reports gathered from all polling stations. The average polling is over 60 per cent in western UP seats.

By the time voting ended, Noida had recorded 59 per cent, Dadri 61, Jewar (65), Bulandshahr (64), Shamli (62), Fatehabad (70.82), Mathura (67), Agra (63.94) and Fatehpur Siri (69.49).

The polling percentage in Mathura improved by eight per cent over the 2012 state assembly elections.

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