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Elections 2019: 66% Voter Turnout Recorded During Second Phase

New Delhi: The Election Commission said that 66% voter turnout was recorded during the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday.

Polling was held for 95 Lok Sabha seats in 11 states and the union territory of Puducherry. with Tamil Nadu witnessing contest in all 38 constituencies.

Officials said the figures are likely to go up as there are many people in queues even after the scheduled timing for voting elapsed.

Except for a few sporadic incidents of violence in West Bengal and Manipur and EVM glitches in some seats, polling was by and large peaceful.

Fourteen seats in Karnataka also went to polls along with ten in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.

According to reports, West Bengal recorded the highest turnout, at 76.42%, followed by Assam (76.22%) and Puducherry (76.19%). The lowest turnout was reported in Jammu and Kashmir, with less than half the voters turning up. The two constituencies that went to the ballot recorded just 45.5% voter turnout.

Among the other states, Chhattisgarh also recorded a high turnout (71.40%). In Odisha, where Naxals have called for a boycott in some constituencies, the turnout was 57.9%.

The voter turnout in other states was: Bihar (62.38%), Karnataka (67.67%), Maharashtra (61.22%), Manipur (67.15%), Tamil Nadu (66.36%) and Uttar Pradesh (66.06%).

In Tamil Nadu, paramilitary forces had to open fire near Arakkonam to disperse crowds.

Polling in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore LS seat was cancelled Tuesday by the Election Commission following recovery of cash allegedly from an associate of a DMK leader recently.

The EC also announced postponement of polling in Tripura (East) Lok Sabha seat to the third phase on April 23, saying the prevailing law-and-order situation there is not conducive for holding free and fair polls.

Isolated incidents of violence

Isolated incidents of violence, road blockades, bombings and police firing marred polling in the three Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal with 76 per cent of voter turnout recorded.

Police fired in the air and burst tear gas shells to control a mob, who threw stones at them in Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal. Bombs were also hurled by unknown miscreants in Chopra area, a senior EC official said.

A reporter and a camera person of a local news channel were allegedly manhandled when they went to cover polling at Kataphulbari in Raiganj constituency.

CPI(M) candidate from Raiganj, Md Salim, claimed his car was attacked by unknown persons when he went to a polling booth at Islampur.

Special police observer Vivek Dubey, however, described the voting as ‘more or less peaceful’ with a few isolated incidents reported from places in the three seats.

In Manipur, voting was stalled in two polling booths of the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency after violence broke out over alleged proxy voting and dispute among election agents.

In one of the booths at Kiyamgei Muslim Makha locality in Imphal East district, unidentified men stormed into a polling station around 11.30 am and broke EVMs and VVPATs, claiming that ‘proxy voting’ was being carried out in the station, Chief Electoral Officer PK Singh said.

In the other booth in the same area, a scuffle broke out between the polling agents of opposing political parties around 3 pm, derailing the voting process.

Sources in the election office said that re-polling was likely in the two booths.

According to police, except for an IED blast triggered by Maoists in Mohla-Manpur assembly segment of Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha constituency, no other untoward incident was reported in the poll-bound areas.

Elections were also held in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha while by polls are being held in 18 assembly segments in Tamil Nadu.

Lok Sabha polls are being conducted in seven phases for 543 seats on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19, and counting will be on May 23.

Poor turnout in J&K

As many as 90 polling booths, mostly in downtown Srinagar, saw no voting in Thursday’s elections to the Srinagar Parliamentary seat.

The Srinagar constituency, comprising eight assembly segments, recorded zero turnout in as many as 50 polling booths.

The majority of these booths were located in Eidgah, Khanyar, Habba Kadal and Batmaloo, sources said.

Barring the Sonawar assembly segment, where former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar cast their votes, all other seven assembly seats recorded a single digit voting percentage with Eidgah at 3.3% by the end of the polling. Sonawar recorded 12% polling.

In the neighbouring Ganderbal district, which is a part of the Srinagar parliamentary seat, as many as 27 polling booths recorded no votes at the end of the day.

The same was the case with 13 booths of Budgam, which witnessed large scale violence in 2017 by-elections to Lok Sabha.

In Budgam area, Chadoora saw the lowest turnout at 9.2% among the five assembly segments, while Chrar-e-Sharief recorded the highest turn out of 31.1%.

The National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah, who is the sitting MP from this constituency, is again contesting from this seat for the 17th Lok Sabha.

PDP has fielded Aga Syed Mohsin, while Khalid Jahangir from BJP and Peoples Conference’s Irfan Ansari are also in the fray. The Congress, which is an ally of NC, has stayed away from contesting Srinagar.

(With PTI inputs & The Wire)

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