Highest 80% polling in Bengal, lowest 55% in UP; EVM glitches reported
Amid reports of large-scale violence in West Bengal and sporadic cases of EVM malfunctioning in several parts of the country, 63.48 per cent voters exercised their franchise in 59 parliamentary constituencies in six States and one Union Territory on Sunday. The highest voter turnout of 80 per cent was recorded in West Bengal, and the lowest of of 55 per cent in Uttar Pradesh.
According to the Election Commission, West Bengal recorded 80.35 per cent polling; Delhi 60.21 per cent, Haryana 65 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 55 per cent, Bihar 59.29 per cent, Jharkhand 64.50 per cent and Madhya Pradesh 61.36 per cent. Delhi and Haryana recorded significant decline in turnout this time around as compared to 2014. Delhi’s had clocked 65 per cent polling in 2014 and Haryana 71 per cent.
EC officials said that some EVM-related glitches were reported from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav filed a complaint about EVM malfunctioning in Azamgarh.
A BJP worker was killed in West Bengal’s Jhargram district amid widespread violence in the sixth phase of polling which saw the saffron party’s candidate from Ghatal and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh seeking refuge inside a temple after being chased by Trinamool Congress supporters.
The trouble started when Bharati Ghosh tried to enter a polling booth in Keshpur. Following it, bombs were hurled and stones were pelted towards her convoy when she tried to visit another booth in Keshpur after receiving complaints of poll rigging.
One of her security guards was injured and a vehicle of her convoy was damaged in the stone-pelting following which the security officers restored to lathicharge.
It was also alleged a Trinamool Congress worker was injured in the firing by the Central force personnel who were with the BJP candidate who, however, denied the charge. The official said, “So far we have not received reports of any firing. We are looking into it. Our officials in the districts have been asked to send details of the incidents of attacks on Bharati Ghosh quickly.”
The CEO also sought a report after Ghosh was seen videographing inside a polling booth at Pikurda in Keshpur.
Ghosh’s vehicle was again blocked by locals when she tried to enter Keshpur market. The Bengal Police posted in the area intervened and her vehicle was seized. “Her vehicle has no valid pass to move through the area on the polling day. We cannot allow her to move around like this. This is a matter of security,” a Bengal Police officer said.
After the seizure, a large number of protesters gathered there and she took shelter inside a temple in Keshpur market area with her security officers guarding her.
The mob also pelted stones at policemen who resorted to lathicharge. Shop owners downed their shutters. Ghosh was then taken to the Keshpur police station to protect her from the wrath of the mob.
BJP’s candidate and State party president Dilip Ghosh too faced protests from locals when he tried to visit a polling booth in his constituency, Medinipore.
Tamluk seat recorded the highest voter turnout at 82.99 per cent, followed by Bishnupur (SC) at 81.90 per cent, Jhargram (ST) at 81.68 per cent, Ghatal at 80.350 per cent, Kanthi at 80.06 per cent, Purulia at 78.64 per cent, Medinipore at 78.17 per cent and Bankura at 75.68 per cent in West Bengal. The eight constituencies are spread across five districts.
BJP candidate from West Champaran Dr Sanjay Jaiswal too was attacked with sticks by unidentified people in Bettiah. Jaiswal suffered some serious injuries.
The sixth phase of polling will decide the fate of former Chief Ministers Akhilesh Yadav, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Sheila Dikshit, Digvijay Singh, Union Agriculture Ministers Radha Mohan Singh, Harshvardhan, former Union Minister Ajay Maken, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, sufi singer Hans Raj Hans, former cricketer Kirti Azad, boxer Vijender Singh, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Manoj Tiwari, Virender Singh and others.
The elections in this phase are seen as a big test for the BJP which had won 45 of these 59 seats in 2014, with the Trinamool Congress bagging 8, the Congress two and the Samajwadi Party and the LJP one seat each.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP had won 13 of the 14 constituencies in 2014, the only exception being Azamgarh, won then by SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. Even though Delhi only sends seven MPs to the 545-seat Lok Sabha, it is considered a crucial indicator to who will form the Government at the Centre. It has been observed that since 1998, whichever party has got the higher number of seats in Delhi has also gone ahead to win the overall general election.
In 2014, all 7 seats were won by the BJP. However, the BJP had to face defeat in the bypolls in Phulpur and Gorakhpur constituencies last year. While, the anti-BJP alliance would like to retain its grip over both the seats, the saffron party is looking to wrest them from the Opposition.
In Madhya Pradesh, Rajgarh recorded the highest polling at 68.15 per cent, followed by Vidisha 65.31 per cent, Guna 64.80 per cent, Bhopal 60.95 per cent, Sagar 60.42 per cent, Gwalior 56.03 per cent, Morena 54.36 per cent and Bhind 50.82 per cent. In Bhopal, Congress veteran Digvijay Singh is locked in a battle with BJP candidate and 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Digvijay Singh could not cast his vote as he is a registered voter of his hometown Raghogarh in Rajgarh Lok Sabha seat. Thakur exercised her franchise in the morning at a polling booth in Rivera Town area in the State capital. Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is seeking re-election from Guna seat, cast his vote at a booth early in the morning in Gwalior.
Sporadic violence, scuffles and allegations of vote rigging marked the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh in which polling was held on 14 seats. The highest turnout was in Ambedkar Nagar where 55.24 per cent polling was recorded. The lowest turnout of 46 per cent was in Phulpur. In Azamgrah, which is a SP stronghold, the contest is between Akhilesh Yadav and BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua”. In Jaunpur, violence was reported when a man was seen wiping his shoes with a BJP flag. BJP supporters beat up the man which led to clashes, and the police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the mob. Polling was not affected during the incident.
In Sultanpur, tension prevailed throughout the day after BJP candidate Maneka Gandhi accused her BSP rival Sonu Singh of ‘terrorising’ voters. Sonu Singh, who came face to face with Maneka Gandhi at one point, said that he was being unnecessarily targeted by the ruling BJP.
In Bhadohi, BJP MLA Dinanath Bhaskar allegedly beat up a presiding official in the Aurai Assembly segment after accusing the officer of deliberately slowing down the polling process.
Jharkhand recorded 65.17 per cent polling for four Lok Sabha constituencies on Sunday. As per EC data, Giridih recorded 65.93 per cent voter turnout, Dhanbad 61.90 per cent, Jamshedpur 66.44 per cent and Singhbhum or Chaibasa 67.79 per cent.
A voter turnout of 65 per cent was recorded in 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana with Kurukshetra and Hisar constituencies witnessing brisk polling. As per the constituency-wise break up, Kurukshetra from where Haryana Minister Nayab Singh Saini is pitted against Congress’s Nirmal Singh
and INLD’s Arjun Chautala, recorded poll percentage of 67.51 while Hisar recorded poll percentage of 68 per cent.
Sirsa, Karnal, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh, Sonipat, Rohtak, Gurgaon, Ambala and Faridabad registered polling percentage of 72, 56, 69, 68 68, 62, 66 and 58 per cent respectively, as per poll officials.
Indian Cricket team captain Virat Kohli was among early voters who exercised his franchise at a polling booth in Gurgaon. After exercising his franchise, he posted a picture of his inked finger on his Twitter handle.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was among the early voters in Karnal while former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Congress, fighting from Sonipat, cast his vote in Kiloi in Rohtak district. The State Congress chief Ashok Tanwar exercised his franchise in Sirsa. JJP candidate and Hisar sitting MP Dushyant Chautala also cast his vote in Sirsa.
JJP leader Digvijay Chautala, candidate from Sonipat, alleged that at booths number 88, 89 and 90 in Jind district, his party symbol (a pair of slippers) was “not clearly visible on EVM machines”.
Monday, 13 May 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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