Polling for the first phase of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh concluded on Thursday evening. As many as 623 candidates, including 73 women, were in the fray and around 2.27 crore people were eligible to vote in this phase.

While voting closed at 6pm, ECI officials said people already in queue were allowed to vote after that time elapsed. Voter turnout was recorded at 60.17%, according to latest ECI trends. 

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Among constituencies, Kairana recored the highest turnout – at 75.12%, while Noida had the lowest turnout – at 50.10%.  

Earlier today, BJP candidate from Mathura, Shrikant Sharma, offered prayers at the Govardhan Temple as voting for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh elections got underway this morning.

Meanwhile, Vijay Kumari, a homemaker and resident of Noida’s Sector 71, said that work security has improved in last five years.

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Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary missed the deadline to cast his vote. The 43-year-old is a registered voter in the Mathura constituency, which went to polls today. Chaudhary, whose party is contesting the elections in alliance with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, faced a lot of backlash for not exercising his franchise in time. 

Earlier today, he had said he will try and vote by evening as he was busy with his election campaign in Bijnore. 

“I’m a voter of Mathura. Right now, we’re in Bijnor as there are just two days remaining for campaigning between the first and second rounds of the Uttar Pradesh polls. My wife voted in the morning. After campaigning ends here, I’ll try to vote at booths open till 6 pm,” RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary said.

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A total of 58 constituencies spread across 11 districts in the western belt of the state are going to polls. A bulk of these seats are Jat dominated who had participated actively in the stir against the Centre’s three contentious agriculture laws in the national capital last year.

In a tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “Free the country of all fear. Come out, vote!”

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As voting began for Phase 1 of the Uttar Pradesh polls started, CM Yogi Adityanath said, “Today is the first phase of the mahayagya of democracy. This ritual would not be complete without the offering of your invaluable vote. Your vote will strengthen the resolve of a crime-free, fear-free, riot-free Uttar Pradesh. That’s why vote first, then refreshment.”

The fiercely contested first round, where the ruling BJP is expected to face a stiff challenge from the resurgent alliance of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), will test the impact of the farmers’ stir.

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The first phase polling will decide the fate of nine ministers in the Yogi Adityanath-led government. The ministers whose electoral fate will be decided are Suresh Rana, Atul Garg, Shrikant Sharma, Sandeep Singh, Anil Sharma, Kapil Dev Agarwal, Dinesh Khatik, Dr GS Dharmesh and Chaudhary Laxmi Narain.

The voting for 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly will be held in seven phases, with the last round on March 7. Counting of votes will be held on March 10.

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The districts where the elections will be held are Shamli, Hapur, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra. In the 2017 polls, the BJP had bagged 53 of these 58 seats while the SP and the Bahujan Samaj party got two seats each. One seat went to the RLD.