The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections concluded on Sunday after polling for the last lap ended with a voter turnout of nearly 64 per cent. Over 8,000 candidates were in the fray for 542 Parliamentary seats across the country.
The last phase, which decided the fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking re-election from Varanasi, witnessed EVM glitches and poll boycott at some areas in a few states. Violence broke out in Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli seat when BJP supporters clashed with their Samajwadi Party counterpart. The situation was later brought under control.
An FIR was registered after the fingers of Dalits in Chandauli were reportedly inked before they could cast their vote in Tara Jivanpur village under Alinagar police station.
A voter turnout of 55.52 per cent was recorded in 13 seats of UP, officials said. According to the Election Commission, the turnout in Varanasi was 53.58 per cent, while in Gorakhpur, it was 56.47 per cent.
In West Bengal, 73.40 per cent of over 1.49 crore electorate exercised their franchise, officials said. Sporadic incidents of violence were reported in Kolkata and its surrounding areas with the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) claiming that voters were being intimidated by the central forces outside the polling booths.
BJP’s North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha alleged that a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park around noon. However, police refuted the BJP leader’s claims and said crackers were burst in the area and that polling was held peacefully.
In South Kolkata, Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was stopped from entering polling booths.
BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour seat Nilanjan Roy alleged his car was vandalised in Budge Budge area. Similar incidents were reported in Jadavpur constituency where BJP candidate Anupam Hazra’a car was attacked by unidentified persons.
However, an election official said that polling in all the nine seats largely remained peaceful. “Polling has by and large been peaceful in the nine seats. There have been no complaints of any violence from any of the polling booths,” the official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“There were also reports of EVM glitches in several polling stations. We have sent reserve EVMs to booths, where the voting process was temporarily hampered due to technical glitches,” he added.
Punjab registered a voter turnout of 59 per cent in 13 seats. Earlier in the day, a few reports of EVM malfunctioning was reported in several areas, including Ludhiana, Samana and Moga. Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said eight ballot units, 13 control units, and eight voter-verified paper audit trail had been replaced.
Clashes also reportedly broke out between Congress and Akali-BJP workers in Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda and Gurdaspur. At Talwandi Sabo, the Akalis alleged that shots were fired by workers of the ruling party.
In Himachal Pradesh, 66.70 per cent turnout was recorded till 5 pm in four Lok Sabha seats where five MLAs, including a state minister, are among the 45 candidates in the fray. EVM snags delayed voting at nine polling stations, a state election officer said. Polling resumed after the nine faulty EVMs were replaced, the official added.
In Madhya Pradesh, a voter turnout of 69.36 was recorded in eight Parliamentary seats.
Bihar witnessed 53.36 per cent voting in eight Lok Sabha seats. In neighbouring Jharkhand, an estimated 70.97 per cent of the total 45,64,681 voters exercised their franchise in three Lok Sabha seats.
Counting of votes will take place on May 23.
(With PTI inputs)