NEW DELHI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Voting for the sixth phase of local elections in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh began amid tight security and adequate arrangements on Saturday, officials said.
Polling in the 49 constituencies spread over seven districts started at 7 a.m. local time and would go on until 5 p.m.
Reports said long queues of people were seen waiting to cast their ballots at designated polling booths since morning.
"The districts which are going for polls in this phase are Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Azamgarh, Mau and Ballia," an election official said.
"Polling is going on smoothly barring some minor incidents and over 23 percent polling has been recorded until 11 a.m. (local time)."
According to local officials, 635 candidates including 63 women are in fray for the sixth phase.
Authorities have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure incident-free polling in poll-bound areas.
"Most of the polling stations are being manned by paramilitary forces," a government official said. "About 2,150 polling station and about 680 helmets have been identified as sensitive and vulnerable and special security measures have been taken at these places."
The previous five phases recorded around a turnout of 60 percent in the state.
Uttar Pradesh with a population of 200 million is the most populous state in India.
The local elections in Uttar Pradesh is seen as a referendum to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision of demonetization - a step to ban high value currency notes.
Meanwhile, polling also began for the first phase of two-phased local elections in northeastern state of Manipur.
"In this phase, voting is taking place for 38 constituencies spread over six districts," an election official said.
"The poll bound districts are Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Kangpokpi, Churachandpur and Pherzawl."
According to officials, the voting which started at 7 a.m. will end at 3 p.m.
Reports said until 11 a.m., around 43 percent voting was recorded.
Manipur is ruled by Congress party's Okram Ibobi Singh since 2002.
Singh has been the chief minister of the state over the last 15 years and in the last elections in 2012, he helped his party win the election for the third time with an absolute majority, securing 42 out of the total 60 seats.
In the ongoing elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is trying hard to unseat Congress.
This year, a civil rights activist of the state, Irom Chanu Sharmila is also in fray.
Last year she ended her 16-year-long hunger strike against a controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state and decided to contest elections.
AFSPA gives Indian armed forces extraordinary powers to arrest without warrants and even shoot a person on mere suspicion.
During her prolonged campaign, the Indian government responded by arresting her under charges of attempting to suicide and at times subjected her to force feeding.
Known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur," Sharmila had won worldwide recognition for her persistence in demanding scrapping of AFSPA.
Counting of votes according to India's Election Commission will be carried out on March 11.