New Delhi: High voter enthusiasm on Thursday marked the sixth phase of polling covering 117 constituencies spread across 12 states as the race to the Lok Sabha crossed the half-way mark with stakes high for Congress and BJP. Barring the killing of a policeman in Assam’s Kokrajhar district in BSF firing to ward off mobs trying to capture a booth and a suspected Maoist attack on a poll team in Jharkhand, the polling today was peaceful.
The turnout today in all the 11 states and 1 union territory, including Mumbai, was higher than the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2009, in sync with the trend witnessed in the five earlier phases this time. While the highest turnout of 83 per cent was recorded in the lone seat of Puducherry followed by West Bengal (82 per cent for six seats) and 73 per cent for all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu which saw singled-phased polling today.
Only two states–Rajasthan (59.2 per cent for five seats) and Maharashtra (55.33 per cent for 19 seats)—registered below 60% turnout. Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency, where PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti in in fray, recorded the lowest turnout of 28 percent today but it was still higher than the 26.9 per cent recorded five years ago.
About 18 crore voters were eligible in the sixth phase to exercise their franchise to decide the electoral fate of nearly 2100 candidates including political heavyweights like External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid (Congress) who is in fray from Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh state, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav contesting from Mainpuri also in UP, leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj (BJP) in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, her party colleague Shahnawaz Hussain in Bhagalpur in Bihar and President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit in Jangipur in West Bengal. After today’s polling, the voting in 347, or close to two third, of the total of 543 Lok Sabha seats are over with 216 seats left in the remaining three of the total of nine phases of the elections.
Today’s was the second biggest phase of the staggered elections after the fourth phase held on April 17 covered 121 seats. BJP and Congress are squared off in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh states but the politically most important part of today’s polling was the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu where BJP and a cluster of smaller regional parties have firmed up a rainbow alliance projected by opinion polls as having a realistic chance of bagging six to seven seats.
56.26 per cent turnout in Maharashtra
Mumbai: An average 56.26 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the 19 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, where polling was held today in the third and final phase. The highest turnout was in Dindori (ST) at 64 per cent, while the lowest was in Kalyan at 42 per cent, election office sources said.
The final voting figure may change, they said. The constituency-wise voting percentage: Nandurbar-ST (62 pc), Dhule (59 pc), Jalgaon (56 pc), Raver (58 pc), Jalna (63 pc), Aurangabad (59 pc), Dindori-ST (64 pc), Nashik (58 pc), Palghar (60 pc), Bhiwandi (43 pc), Kalyan (42 pc), Thane (52 pc), Mumbai North (52 pc), Mumbai North West (60 pc), Mumbai North East (53 pc), Mumbai North Central (55 pc), Mumbai South Central (55 pc), Mumbai South (54 pc) and Raigad (64 pc).
73 per cent voter turnout in Tamil Nadu; Puducherry 83 per cent
Chennai/Puducherry: In a record turnout, 73 per cent of the 5.50 crore electorate in Tamil Nadu cast their votes in 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in the single-phase voting today which passed off by and large peacefully. The voting percentage of 73 per cent is marginally higher compared to 72.98 per cent polled in the 2009 elections. The neighbouring union territory of Puducherry also witnessed a record turnout of 83 per cent of 8.85 lakh electorate casting their votes for the lone seat as against the 79.85 per cent in 2009 elections.
Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy is waging an herculean battle in a field of 30 candidates for his second successive win in Puducherry, amid challenge thrown by ruling AINRC and PMK. The poll process which remained largely trouble-fee, however, was marred by a clash between AIADMK and DMK workers in Tenkasi over alleged attempt to influence voters by a Panchayat chief which left six persons injured.
In Madurai, three persons were injured when police made a lathicharge to disperse two groups of AIADMK and DMK men who clashed at a polling booth in Sikkandhar Chavadi locality. The poll fortunes of 845 candidates, including DMK’s A Raja (Nilgiris) and Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), P Chidambaram’s son Karti (Sivaganga), another Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar(Mayiladuthurai), BJP state president Pon Radhakrishnan and AAP leader and anti-nuclear activist SP Udhaya Kumar (both Kanyakumari) were sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines.
All the EVMs have been moved to respective strong rooms where those will be kept till May 16, the counting day. Complaints by voters about delay in commencing the poll process due to technical snags in EVMs have came in from various parts but it did not affect the poll process in which 1.47 lakh security personnel kept an eagle-eyed vigil.
60 per cent polling in Bihar
Patna: Despite the mercury soaring over 42degrees Celsius, around 60 per cent voter turnout was recorded at the end of voting in seven Lok Sabha seats of Bihar in the third phase today. While Supual registered 59 per cent voting till 6 PM, it was 60 per cent in Araria, 64 per cent in Kisanganj, 64 per cent in Katihar, 59 per cent in Purnia, 55 per cent in Bhagalpur and 56.43 per cent in Banka, an Election Commission statement said. Voting percentage rise was maximum in Kisanganj and Katihar seats this time as compared to the last elections. BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, NCP general secretary Tariq Anwar and senior RJD leader Mohammad Taslimuddin were among the 108 candidates whose fate was sealed in the EVMs today.
Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Ravindra Kumar told reporters that 98 anti-socials were arrested during the day for disturbing the voting process. In Supual LS seat, Rs 1.68 lakh unaccounted cash was seized, he said, adding, the Indian Muslim League candidate from the constituency Mohammad Amanullah was arrested on the charge of influencing voters. There was report of delay in polling in 20 booths in Katihar due to snags in EVM machines. There were also reports of technical problems in EVMs in some other constituencies which were rectified, election office sources said.
63.44 per cent polling in Jharkhand
Ranchi: Altogether 63.44 per cent polling was recorded today in the third and final phase of polling in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand. Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer P K Jajoria said the state recorded 63.44 per cent. The fate of 72 candidates including former chief ministers Shibu Soren of JMM, Babulal Marandi of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantric and BJP’s Sunil Soren were sealed in EVMs. Polling was held in Dhanbad, Dumka, Raj Mahal and Godda Lok Sabha constituencies. The first phase of polling for four seats was held on April 10 (58.3 per cent) and the second phase (63.45 per cent) for six seats on April 17.
82 per cent turn out in West Bengal
Kolkata: West Bengal registers 82 per cent polling for 6 Lok Sabha seats. Earlier during the day, only about 28 per cent turnout was recorded in six Parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal in the first three hours of voting today.
Polling was being held to the Raiganj, Balurghat, Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur and Murshidabad seats in north Bengal. “Polling percentage is very good in first three hours and large number of voters are seen waiting in queues in most polling stations,” he said. Altogether 28 EVMs were replaced after mock polling and in a number of places because of malfunction, Gupta said. He said that the polling was peaceful so far.
70.6 per cent voting recorded in Assam
Guwahati: An estimated 70.6 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in the third and final phase of Lok Sabha polls in Assam which witnessed poll violence in Kokrajhar (ST) constituency where one policeman was killed and two others were seriously injured. The voting percentage was expected to go up as many voters were still inside the polling booths, election office sources said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from the state since 1991, and his wife Gursharan Kaur cast their vote at Dispur Government Higher Secondary School here. Of the six Lok Sabha seats, Dhubri recorded the highest voter turnout of 75 per cent followed by Gauhati at 73 per cent, Mangaldoi and Nowgong with 71 per cent each, Barpeta at 69 per cent and Kokrajhar 66 per cent, according to the Returning Officers of the respective constituencies.
A policeman was killed and two others were injured when supporters of two candidates clashed over snatching of EVM machines and attacked the police when it intervened to stop them and they also snatched away two INSAS rifles at a poll booth in Harbhanga Gossaigaon L P School in Kokrajhar Parliamentary seat, police said. While Constable Tinku Ronghang died on the spot, another constable Nileswar Roy and police sectoral officer Yunus Ali were injured and admitted to hospital, they said.
Despite the temperature touching nearly 40 degree Celsius in Guwahati and still higher in other constituencies, voting was brisk with long queues of voters visible in the early hours. EVM malfunctioning was reported in many polling centres but those were replaced.
First time voters in the 18-21 years age group were enthusiastic as they lined up in large numbers despite the sizzling heat. Altogether 74 contestants, including nine women, are in the electoral battle for the six seats. Prominent candidates are AIUDF president and sitting MP Badruddin Ajmal, Assam Transport Minister Chandan Brahma of BPF, sitting BPF MP S K Bwiswmuthiary, former ULFA ‘commander’ Naba (Hira) Sarania contesting as an Independent, former Meghalaya Governor and NSG chief Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary of Trinamool Congress.
59.64 per cent voter turn out in Rajasthan
Jaipur: About 59.64 per cent of 81 lakh voters today exercised their franchise in 5 Lok Sabha constituencies where polling ended for the second and final phase in Rajasthan. It was about 9.4 per cent more than the 2009 LS polls in five constituencies, A K Jain, Chief Election Officer, told a press conference here.
There was no poll related violence in five constituencies, Jain claimed. Polling was not either disturbed on Satha booth despite little clash outside due to women electors’ identity issue in which mob of men folks tried to obstruct, he said, adding however an FIR was lodged by police with Mahua police station related to attack on scribes who went for coverage.
Forty-five thousands security personnels were on duty in the most sensitive 5 LS seats in the state, he added. Dausa LS seat recorded a tentative polling of 60.81 per cent, Alwar: 65.14 per cent, Karauli-Dholpur: 53.98, Bharatpur: 56.7, Tonk- Sawaimadhopur 60.72 pc, Jain said, adding the final tally of poll percentage would be clear by tomorrow morning.
Poll fortune of eighty one contestants, including two Union Ministers; Namonarayan Meena (MoS finance) from Dausa, Jitendra Singh (MoS-sports) from Alwar, and former cricketer Mohammed Azaharruddin from Tonk-Swaimadhopur was sealed in EVMs. Total 9,112 polling booths, of which 2,674 declared as critical, were guarded by 45,000 security personnel to ensure the free and fair poll.
First phase of polling in 20 of Rajasthan’s 25 seats was held with an average of 63.63 per cent on April 17. An average of 62.9 per cent polling was held in both Ist and IInd phase in the state as against 48.4 per cent in 2009 LS polls. This time it was about 15 per cent higher, according to the CEO.
55 per cent voting recorded till 5 pm in Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow: Over 55.40 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 5pm in Uttar Pradesh, where polling is going on in 12 seats in the third phase to decide fate of 188 candidates. Hathras witnessed 55.4 per cent polling in the first four hours while Mathura and Agra recorded 53 and 60.2 per cent polling respectively. Fatehpur Sikri recorded 56.84 per cent polling, Firozabad 56.16 per cent, Mainpuri 59.8 per cent, Etah 53.6 per cent, Hardoi 53.8 per cent, Farukhabad 56 per cent, Etawah 52.03 per cent, Kannauj and Akbarpur had 56.86 and 52.72 per cent respectively.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, senior cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav exercised their vote along with their family members in Etawah. Union Minister Salman Khurshid exercised his franchise at a polling centre at a Pitaura in Farukkhabad. Meanwhile, in-charge of Merapur police station Ram Sajeevan Yadav has been suspended with immediate effect on allegation of partiality during the polling.
A complaint was received from former minister Narendra Singh Yadav father of rebel Samajwadi Party candidate Sachin Yadav’s and the electoral observer report was sought, SP Alankrita Singh said. She said that after receiving the report from the observer, Ram Sajeevan was suspended with immediate effect. Earlier Narendra Yadav had a confrontation with Subodh Yadav son of SP candidate Rameshwar Yadav at Samtuia polling centre.
According to a report, voters boycotted polling in Totalpur, Adampur, Shyamnagar and Agnipur villages in Firozabad district to protest against lack of development. Similarly in Auraiya district of Etawah Lok Sabha electorate of Shala and Ratnipur villages boycotted election, but it resumed later on the assurance of the officials. In Etawah Lok Sabha area electorates boycotted polling in two villages. Over 2500 voters boycotted polling in Lavedi area demanding arrest of persons involved in rape and murder of a girl, whereas in Thadburkhara village 609 voters boycotted polling to protect against lack of development works.
59.04% vote in Madhya Pradesh till 5 pm
Bhopal: A total of 59.04 per cent votingwas recorded till 5 pm in Madhya Pradesh, where polling is underway for 10 Lok Sabha seats in the final phase amid reports of poll boycott from a village in Khargone district. “So far 59.04 per cent electorate including 67.60 per cent men and 49.89 per cent women have cast their votes,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer, Jaideep Govind told reporters here.
The polling figures in 10 seats across MP are as follows: Vidisha (59.35%), Dewas (60.62%), Ujjain (56.10%), Mandsaur (64.29%), Ratlam (62.14%), Dhar (59.40%), Indore (50.88%), Khargone (63.60%), Khandwa (64.59%) and Betul (50.78%), the CEO said adding the turnout will further go up as polling will continue till 6 PM.
Reports of poll boycott were received from Khargone’s Satavada village (polling booth no.15), where miffed electorate did not turn up for voting alleging lack of basic facilities. Also, only five votes were polled at polling booth No.142 in Ratlam’s Jaora town on the same issue, the CEO said. Efforts are on to persuade people to exercise their right to franchise by concerned officials but they have been unrelenting so far, he said.
56% voter turnout in Chhattisgarh till 4 pm
Raipur: Around 56 per cent of the electorate cast their vote till 4 pm in the seven Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh, where the last phase of polling is taking place today amidst tight security. Polling has been by and large peaceful in the state till now.
An average 56 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the seven constituencies – Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Janjgir- Champa (SC), Raigarh (ST), Surguja (ST) and Korba – till 4 pm, State Joint Chief Electoral Officer DD Singh told PTI. A large number of youths lined up before polling booths since early morning in capital Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur and Korba. Meanwhile, EVMs were replaced at several places after they developed snag, Singh said.
A total of 153 candidates, including 15 women, are in the fray. As many as 14,474 booths – 3,283 of them declared critical – have been set up in these constituencies which are spread across 14 districts covering 58 Assembly seats. Key contestants in the third and last round of polling in the State include sitting Congress MP and Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Korba), State BJP chief and sitting MP Vishnu Deo Sai (Raigarh-ST), six-time MP Ramesh Bais of BJP (Raipur), national president of BJP Mahila Morcha and sitting MP Saroj Pandey (Durg) and Karuna Shukla, Congress nominee and niece of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee (Bilaspur).