New Delhi, May 7 (PTI): Moderate to brisk polling was recorded till noon Wednesday in most of the seven states during the eighth phase of the Lok Sabha polls that will decide the fate of 1,737 candidates including Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, his cousin Varun, Ram Vilas Paswan and Rabri Devi.
Over 180 million voters will pick their candidates in 64 constituencies spread over Seemandhra, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir.
Elections have been completed in 438 of the 543 constituencies, and 41 seats will go to the polls in the last round on May 12.
The spotlight was on Amethi in Uttar Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi toured polling booths on voting day for the first time since he began representing it in 2004.
In Uttar Pradesh, over 25 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 11am to decide the fate of 243 candidates, including Rahul and Varun Gandhi.
In the high-profile Amethi seat, 27.80 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours. In neighbouring Sultanpur, from where Varun Gandhi is contesting, 25.80 per cent voters had cast their votes.
In Seemandhra, barring stray incidents of violence, polling was peaceful in the 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies.
About 33 per cent polling was recorded till 1100 hours even as police opened fire in the air to disperse a group of YSR Congress workers who allegedly tried to remove a poll agent from a booth in Guntur.
There were incidents of stone pelting between YSRCP and TDP at a few places and two vehicles were damaged during the clashes. Seven persons of both YSRCP and TDP were injured in Proddatur and Mydukur segments.
West Bengal recorded a voter turnout of 45 per cent till 11am in six seats and Bihar 15 per cent in seven seats.
Prominent among the 118 candidates in Bihar were Paswan, the Lok Janshakti Party’s chief, from Hajipur, and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi of the Rashtriya Janata Dal from Saran, besides Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the Bharatiya Janata Party from the same seat.
In West Bengal, notable among the 72 nominees were nine-times MP CPI(M)'s Basudeb Acharia, actress Moonmoon Sen of Trinamool Congress from Bankura, singer Babul Supriyo of BJP from Asansol and actress of yesteryears Sandhya Roy of Trinamool Congress from Midnapore.
In Bihar, Sheohar registered 15 per cent voting, Sitamarhi 13 per cent, Muzaffarpur 18 per cent, Maharajganj 16 per cent, Saran 16 per cent, Hajipur (SC reserved) 16.15 per cent and Ujiyarpur 12.5 per cent respectively till 10:00am.
Glitches in EVMs were reported in some places while in Sitamarhi voters boycotted polls in some booths complaining of lack of development. Bypoll to two Assembly seats of Chiraia and Maharajganj were also under way.
Himachal Pradesh witnessed moderate to brisk polling during first three hours with 18 to 25 per cent voters exercising their franchise by 11am.
Moderate polling was witnessed in Baramulla and Ladakh Parliamentary constituencies of Jammu & Kashmir as nearly 15 per cent of the eligible voters exercised their franchise till 11am, ignoring militant threats and boycott call of separatists in north Kashmir.
Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where several incidents of militant violence have been reported since Tuesday, recorded a turnout of nearly 10 per cent in the first four hours of polling.
Separatists had called for a poll boycott but the turnout in the Baramulla constituency so far suggests that the voters have not paid much heed to it.
In Ladakh Lok Sabha seat, Leh district recorded 14.10 per cent turnout till 11am while Kargil district recorded 26 per cent during the corresponding period.