With a population nearly Brazil's size, northern Uttar Pradesh sends 80 of the 543 lawmakers to the country's parliament, the highest among all other states, making it a game-changer turf.

UTTAR PRADESH, India — A three-party alliance of regional parties threatens the momentum of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by strongman Narendra Modi in Uttar Pradesh (UP), a state with a population of at least 200 million.

The political importance of this state is immense – so much so that since 1947, of 15 prime ministers, nine have come from UP with current Prime Minister Narendra Modi again contesting from the state’s Varanasi district, a seat he won in 2014.

UP state has always been a communal hotspot, and a gauge of India’s political situation.

It has a high percentage of Muslims, which has remained part of the political chessboard with religion, caste, sect and language playing key role in determining the success of politicians.

While the BJP won a landslide in 2014, bagging over 70 seats from UP alone, its momentum in this election is checked by a regional alliance of three political parties which will likely lead to a tight race.

TRT World reports some highlights from the first polling day in the state. 

Muslim voter and sugarcane farmer poses for a photo in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar's district. The district was a scene of deadly riots in 2013, leading to BJP's victory after votes got divided into Hindus and Muslims.
Muslim voter and sugarcane farmer poses for a photo in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar's district. The district was a scene of deadly riots in 2013, leading to BJP's victory after votes got divided into Hindus and Muslims. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
This year, over 430 million women are eligible to vote. Their turnout was around 66 percent in last national election.
This year, over 430 million women are eligible to vote. Their turnout was around 66 percent in last national election. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
Muslims seem voting considerably for anti-BJP alliance of the regional SP-BSP-RLD parties, that has vowed to end divide between Hindu and Muslim population and patch up the angry sides.
Muslims seem voting considerably for anti-BJP alliance of the regional SP-BSP-RLD parties, that has vowed to end divide between Hindu and Muslim population and patch up the angry sides. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
Some potential voters say their names are missing from the voter list. Others are talking about late sugarcane payments by government and private mills, rising electricity bills, the menace of stray cattle, and sectarian divisions, and are voting accordingly.
Some potential voters say their names are missing from the voter list. Others are talking about late sugarcane payments by government and private mills, rising electricity bills, the menace of stray cattle, and sectarian divisions, and are voting accordingly. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
Uttar Pradesh is largely conservative and male-controlled. Over the past few years Hindu men have carried out attacks on Muslims on the pretext of protecting cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism.
Uttar Pradesh is largely conservative and male-controlled. Over the past few years Hindu men have carried out attacks on Muslims on the pretext of protecting cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism. (TRTWorld)
Hindu Jats, who voted largely for BJP in 2014 election, are divided between BJP and the triple alliance, as both sides have strong Jat candidates in the fray.
Hindu Jats, who voted largely for BJP in 2014 election, are divided between BJP and the triple alliance, as both sides have strong Jat candidates in the fray. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
The fight in some of Uttar Pradesh's districts is largely being fought between BJP and anti-BJP alliance. Barring few seats, opposition Congress is billed to remain in a tight spot.
The fight in some of Uttar Pradesh's districts is largely being fought between BJP and anti-BJP alliance. Barring few seats, opposition Congress is billed to remain in a tight spot. (Vijay Pandey / TRTWorld)
Source: TRT World