Nearly 25% voters exercised their franchise in the first four hours in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is underway in 14 seats to decide the fate of 233 candidates.
UP Governor B L Joshi, BSP supremo Mayawati, Congress candidate from Lucknow Rita Bahuguna Joshi, BJP national president Rajnath Singh and party leader Kalraj Mishra were among those who exercised their franchise.
Dhaurahra witnessed 32 per cent polling in the first four hours while Sitapur and Mishrikh recorded 27 and 23.46 per cent polling respectively. Unnao recorded 22.83 per cent polling, Mohanlalganj 21.2 per cent, Lucknow 23.03 per cent, Rae Bareli 20.8 per cent, Kanpur 24.4 per cent, Jalaun 22 per cent, Jhansi 30.2 per cent, Hamirpur 23.39 per cent, Banda 25.18 per cent, Fatehpur and Akbarpur had 25.67 and 26 per cent respectively.
The fate of 233 candidates will be decided by 2.46 crore voters that include 1.34 crore men and 1.12 crore women. A total of 25,485 polling centres have been set up in which 3554 have been identified as critical. The focus would be on Rae Bareli and Lucknow seats from where Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP President Rajnath Singh are in the fray. Gandhi, who is contesting from her traditional Rae Bareli, has no major contestant against her with SP deciding not to field its candidate against her. The prestigious Lucknow seat, which is in the limelight with the entry of the BJP's national president, is set to witness a tricky contest.
Rajnath, who is facing a four-cornered fight, has two tasks at hand - first to maintain legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and second to ensure a victory margin matching with his political stature. Meanwhile, to see the polling exercise British High Commissioner James David Bevan today reached Lucknow and visited a number of polling centres. According to official sources he also visited the election commission office and met Governor Joshi, Rajnath, Mayawati and Rita Joshi. He is also scheduled to visit Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. District Magistrate Rae Bareli Aditi Singh had informed that Bevan would visit polling booth at Dayanand PG College in Bachrawan town to see the polling process for the Lok Sabha elections.
After this he would visit polling centre at Kendriya Vidyalaya at Gora Bazar in Rae Bareli city, she said.