Nearly 66 per cent voter turnout was recorded across 117 Lok Sabha constituencies for the third phase of Lok Sabha elections spread over 13 states and 2 Union Territories. However, the polling process was marred by reports of EVM malfunctioning in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Odisha and clashes between TMC and Congress workers in West Bengal, which left one person dead.
East Tripura constituency, where voting was deferred after allegations of political violence, rigging and restraining of voters by the Opposition, recorded the highest turnout of 80.40 per cent.
West Bengal, Goa, Kerala, Assam also saw brisk voting, with voter participation above 70 per cent. However, voting was dull in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, where turnout was only 12.86 per cent. Zero votes were cast in 65 booths in Anantnag, where polling is being held in three phases.
Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting was held in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.
Here is how the different states voted:
Kerala saw 76.82 per cent voter turnout, the highest in the state since 1991. Among the 20 seats, Kannur constituency recorded the highest voter participation at 82.08 per cent.
Cases of EVM malfunctioning were reported from Kovalam and Cherthala in the morning, with voters alleging that the machines recorded votes for BJP even when Congress button was pressed. However, DEO at Kovalam booth denied the allegations and said the machines had some other issues which have been rectified.
Four people fell unconscious and died while standing in queues to cast their votes in Kerala. In the evening, a 21-year-old man was booked by police after he allegedly made a false complaint about a voting machine in a booth where he cast his vote.
Wayanad, from where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contested, recorded a voting percentage of 76.21 per cent even though it was lashed by heavy rains. Thiruvananthapuram, where Shashi Tharoor was pitted against BJP’s Kumanam Rajasekharan, registered 70.86 per cent polling.
Barring a few stray incidents, polling was largely peaceful in Gujarat, which saw 62.36 per cent voting across the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state. In 2014, the voter turnout was 63.60 per cent.
The Congress moved the Election Commission, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took out a “road show” after casting his vote as well as made political remarks in violation of the model code of conduct. The party demanded a campaign ban of 2-3 days on PM Modi.
Modi, accompanied by BJP chief Amit Shah, cast his vote from Ranip in Ahmedabad. Shah is contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the first time from Gandhinagar. After casting his vote in Ahmedabad, Modi walked some distance from the polling booth and interacted briefly with mediapersons.
In Junagadh, two persons were arrested by the police for allegedly threatening voters in the Ambedkarnagar area of the city. In Dahod, a mob of around 20 people barged into a polling booth at Zalod and allegedly beat up two persons who were deployed there for election duty.
* West Bengal
Even though polling in five parliamentary seats of West Bengal – Balurghat, Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur, Murshidabad recorded the second highest turnout of 79.36 per cent, there were reports of sporadic clashes and bombings.
Bombs were reportedly hurled outside a booth in Balurghat seat of West Bengal. Central forces also baton charged a mob in Suti area of Jangipur. “Three people were injured in two incidents of bombing in Domkal area and adjoining Tiktikipara in Murshidabad,” an election official said.
Moreover, one person was killed and two others critically injured in a clash between workers of TMC and Congress which broke out in Bhagwangola under Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency.
Amid reports of violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Central forces were asking voters to cast their franchise for the BJP. About 350 companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have been posted in the state to oversee the election process.
“I have got information that the central forces are sitting inside booths in Englishbazar in Malda Dakshin and asking voters to vote for the BJP. They do not have the right to do such a thing. We have informed the Election Commission about our reservations regarding this,” PTI quoted Mamata as saying.
* Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh recorded a voter turnout of 60.52 per cent in the 10 constituencies where polling took place even as the Samajwadi Party lodged a complaint about malfunctioning of EVMs with the Election Commission, terming it criminal negligence.
Some EVMs developed snags in Chandausi and Asmoli assembly segments of the Aonla Lok Sabha seat, while in Pilibhit, polling at a sensitive booth in Kukrikheda started late by about an hour due to faulty EVMs.
At a booth in Etah Zila panchayat, presiding officer Yogesh Kumar was removed after people accused him of forcing them to cast their votes in favour of the SP.
“EVMs across India malfunctioning or voting for the BJP. DMs say poll officials untrained to operate EVMs. 350+ being replaced. This is criminal negligence for a polling exercise that costs Rs 50,000 crore. Should we believe DMs @ECISVEEP, or is something far more sinister afoot?” SP chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.
Polling was peaceful in the five seats that went to polls in Bihar, which saw 59.97 per cent voter participation. Voting was hampered at two polling stations in Khagaria and three booths in Jhanjharpur due to EVM malfunctioning.
“Polling has been peaceful with no untoward incident reported from any of the constituencies so far,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Kumar Singh said.