Barring an incident of firing by Naxals on a poll party in Gadchiroli, no untoward incident was reported as nearly 62.5 per cent voters exercised their franchise in 10 Vidarbha constituencies on Thursday. There were, however, some complaints of names missing from voter lists and EVM malfunctioning.
The turnout marked an improvement of over 7 per cent from last time. The biggest jump of 16 per cent was registered at Nagpur that polled 59 per cent votes this time as compared to 43 per cent in 2009. Akola ,too, registered a jump of 116 per cent — from 39 per cent in 2009 to 65 per cent.
Gadchiroli, Amravati, Bhandara-Gondia and Akola polled maximum — 65 per cent — votes each, while Gadchiroli district registered 71 per cent polling. Bhandara-Gondia, where Union Minister for Heavy Industries and sitting NCP MP Praful Patel is contesting, registered a significant drop — from 71 per cent in 2009 to 65 per cent this time. Sources said the drop was on account of less voting in urban areas. The poll percentage dropped in Buldhana by about 3 per cent — from 61 per cent to 58 per cent.
A poll party walking from Gardewad to Gatta in Gadchiroli was fired at by Naxals. The fire was retaliated, following which the attackers turned back. No injuries were caused and the team reached Gatta safe.
Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul complained of “large-scale problems” in the voter list, alleging that names of over 46,000 voters were missing. Adsul’s son and MLA Abhijit and supporters marched to the collector’s office at Amravati to protest.
Adsul claimed that while these voters — from Hindu-dominated areas in Amravati city — had voted in the the last elections, their names were missing from the rolls when they went to cast their vote on Thursday. Collector Rahul Ranjan Mahiwal told the Sainiks that he would seek directions from the Election Commission to check facts but had no power to let the “missing” names cast their votes. After two hours, the Sainiks left the place.
Later, Adsul said the administration had deliberately deleted these names at the behest of NCP leaders and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar. “These people have been voting for years, be it municipal, Assembly or Parliamentary elections. They had their voter ID card and still their names were not in the list. I will take this matter to court because it deprives people of their constitutional right to vote,” he said.
Mahiwal said Adsul had filed a written complaint in the matter but their process of preparing electoral rolls was sound and transparent. “Like we do before every elections, we deleted some names and added some to the list. The final rolls were published on the Internet, displayed in our office and CDs were distributed to political parties. Why did they not check at that time if their names were there on the list or not? We deleted about 70, 000 names while over 1 lakh new voters were registered with us,” said the collector.
Complaints of missing names were reported from Nagpur too.
Sporadic incidents of EVM malfunctioning were also reported from some places, including Nagpur. “But all those were immediately taken care of and caused no impediment,” said Nagpur Divisional Commissioner Anoop Kumar.
At Badnera in Amravati, two EVMs were sealed and replaced soon after elections began in the morning. These EVMs were rigged in a way that all votes went to candidate number 3 Navneet Kaur Rana irrespective of the button that the voter pressed.
Among the prominent ones to cast their votes in Nagpur were former BJP president and Nagpur candidate Nitin Gadkari and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
With inputs from Mumbai