Over 64-pct turnout recorded at local elections in India's Uttar Pradesh

Added On February 12, 2017

NEW DELHI, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Over 64 percent voter turnout has been registered in the first phase of local elections in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said.

The first phase of staggered seven-phase polling was held in 73 constituencies of the northern state.

"In Uttar Pradesh, 64.22 percent voters turnout was registered in the first phase of Assembly elections," an election official told the media Saturday evening.

A senior official from Election Commission of India Vijay Dev told reporters in New Delhi that polling passed off peacefully.

"The turnout was exemplary and it will set the tone for the remaining six phases to be held between Feb. 15 and March 8 in the state," Dev said.

Reports said few incidents of violence were also reported from the poll bound areas.

Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 200 million, is most populous state in India and sends 80 lawmakers to the Indian parliament.

The local elections in Uttar Pradesh is seen as a referendum to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision of demonetisation - a step to ban high-value currency notes.

Modi's Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) won 71 seats from Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 India's general election. Modi, who is basically from the western state of Gujarat, also managed to get elected from Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi constituency.

Modi's radical move in November last year led to a cash shortage and was opposed by all the opposition parties besides common people, who faced lot of hardships in banks.

Ahead of elections, regional Samajwadi Party, which was ruling the state, forged an alliance with Congress Party to regain power for the second consecutive term.

Political analysts said BJP is facing competition from the alliance besides another regional player - Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has following among the low-caste Dalits and some Muslims.

Counting of votes according to India's Election Commission would be carried out on March 11.