Nearly 37 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 1 pm 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 44.2 per cent polling in the first four hours while Sitapur and Mishrikh recorded 39.8 and 34.4 per cent polling respectively.

Unnao recorded 32.71 per cent polling, Mohanlalganj 36 per cent, Lucknow 34.1 per cent, Rae Bareli 30.4 per cent, Kanpur 35.68 per cent, Jalaun 34.6 per cent, Jhansi 44.2 per cent, Hamirpur 36.71 per cent, Banda 33.14 per cent, Fatehpur and Barabanki had 40.1 and 39.15 per cent respectively.

In Sitapur an FIR has been lodged against SP MLA Rampal Yadav after he entered into an altercation with CRPF jawan Dharampal Singh at Nauabehad polling booth in Biswan area.

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.

Ms. 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 on Wednesday 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.