New Delhi: Over 64 per cent voter turnout was recorded on Sunday in polling for 59 seats in the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections, with Madhya Pradesh recording the highest turnout of 75.53 per cent.
There were reports of people ransacking a polling booth and holding an official hostage in Bihar, as well as sporadic violence in West Bengal. Polling was conducted in remaining eight constituencies in Bihar, three constituencies in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal and all the four constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, 13 in Punjab and the lone seat of Union Territory Chandigarh.
According to the Election Commission (EC) data, West Bengal registered 73.57 per cent voting, followed by Himachal Pradesh 71.39 per cent, Jharkhand 71.16 per cent, Punjab 65.77 per cent, Chandigarh 63.57 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 58.01 per cent and Bihar 53.36 per cent. Over 10.1 crore voters decided the fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the last phase of polling on Sunday. As per the Election Commission, the voter turnout was 69.61 per cent in the first phase, 69.44 per cent in second phase, 68.4 per cent in third phase, 65.5 per cent in fourth phase, 64.16 per cent in fifth phase and 64.4 per cent in sixth phase.
The Commission said a total of 67.34 per cent voter turnout was recorded uptill sixth phase which was 1.21 per cent more than 2014 for the corresponding parliamentary constituencies uptill the six phase. Voting began at over 1.12 lakh polling stations across the seven states and a Union Territory at 7 a.m. According to election officials, angry voters ransacked the polling booth in Nalanda in Bihar and held the Block Development Officer hostage. The officer was freed after police intervention. No voting took place at the booth.
Glitches in Electronic Voting Machines were also reported from the eight constituencies, leading to delay in the poll process in a few booths. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and former Chief Ministers Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rabri Devi voted in Patna. Other prominent faces who voted in the state capital, include Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Congress candidate from Patna Sahib Shatrughan Sinha and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti.
Sinha was accompanied by his wife Poonam and his two sons, Luv and Kush. West Bengal reported a few incidents of sporadic violence and reports of EVM failures in several booths leading to either delay or stalling of the poll process. Long queues of voters were seen outside polling booths in Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North constituencies.
“EVM failure has been reported from across constituencies and requisite actions are being taken,” said the Election Commission official. Anupam Hazra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from West Bengal’s Jadavpur seat, and a party leader accompanying him were attacked and the latter’s car damaged after the two visited a booth on receiving reports of rigging. Hazra alleged that he was pushed and shoved and accused the TMC of rigging all 52 polling booths under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation ward number 109 in Jadavpur.
“The BJP Mandal President was hit and one of his tooth was broken. A CISF officer posted at the booth was also injured in the attack by the Trinamool,” Hazra told the media. The Trinamool, however, denied the allegations. Modi is re-contesting from Varanasi seat in Uttar Pradesh. Besides Modi, 25 other candidates are in fray from Varanasi. Modi’s main challengers are Congress’ Ajay Rai and SP-BSP’s joint candidate Shalini Yadav.
In Himachal Pradesh, women turned out in large numbers in the rural areas of the Hamirpur and Kangra parliamentary constituencies. There were minor hiccups as electronic voting machines developed snags at some places. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, two-time former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and former Union Minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma were among the early voters in the state.