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Violent 7th phase brings curtain down on LS polls

63.5% turnout reported; bombs hurled in Bengal

The long-drawn 2019 Lok Sabha polls concluded on Sunday with the seventh and last phase witnessing a 63.52 per cent voter turnout amid incidents of violence reported from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, where a Congress activist was killed. Bengal, despite bombs being hurled and clashes between TMC and BJP workers, recorded the highest voter turnout (73.51 per cent). Bihar recorded the lowest (53.36 per cent) turnout. The last phase, which will decide the fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw EVM glitches and poll boycott at some booths. According to the Election Commission (EC), Himachal Pradesh recorded 70.23 per cent turnout, Madhya Pradesh 73. 86 per cent, Punjab 63.67 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 58 per cent,  Jharkhand 71.16 cent and Chandigarh 63.57 per cent. In Bengal, rival groups threw crude bombs in Bhatpara. The tense situation was brought under control when police used batons. Violence was reported in all the seven phases in Bengal. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused BJP workers and Central forces of “intimidating voters” during the seventh phase poll saying she has never seen “such a thing before.”  Meanwhile, in Basirhat the BJP alleged that 100 voters were barred from casting their votes and a BJP camp was set to fire in Barasat. BJP’s North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha said a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park in the constituency around noon. Police, however, said crackers were burst in the area, and polling underwent peacefully. In Kolkata South, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged she was stopped from entering polling booths. Sporadic clashes were reported in Kolkata and its surrounding areas. BJP candidate Nilanjan Roy in Diamond Harbour constituency alleged his car was vandalised in Budge Budge area. Similar reports came in from Jadavpur constituency, where BJP candidate Anupam Hazra’s car came under attack by unidentified men. EVM malfunctioning was reported from across Punjab and Bihar. Violent clashes between workers of various parties in  Punjab, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh were reported. In the Nalanda seat, a mob ransacked a polling booth and held an official hostage for an hour as they boycotted the polls. Clashes were also reported from Sasaram, Karakat, Arrah and Jehanabad. Congress and Akali-BJP workers clashed in Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda and Gurdaspur. At Talwandi Sabo, Akalis alleged that shots were fired by ruling party workers. According to reports, one Congress worker was killed in a poll-related violence in Khadoor Sahib seat in Punjab. In UP, the turnout in Modi’s constituency Varanasi was 57 per cent, while in Gorakhpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s turf, it was 56.47 per cent. Violence erupted in Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency, where State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey is seeking re-election. Monday, 20 May 2019 | PNS | New Delhi/Kolkata

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