Voting in Haryana and Maharashtra ended on Monday, with both the states recording above 60 per cent turnout amid stray incidents of violence and complaints of EVM glitches. While Haryana saw a voter turnout of 65 per cent, down from a record 76.54 per cent in 2014, in Maharashtra 63 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 6 pm. In the 2014 elections, Maharashtra recorded 63.38 per cent turnout.
In Maharashtra, where the BJP-Shiv Sena combine is upbeat on securing a second term under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis, there was a slow start to the voting process even though there was an uptick as the day dragged on. PTI reported there was an enthusiastic turnout in rural areas than the urban regions.
Several prominent personalities like RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, CM Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar came out to vote in the morning hours.
As the day progressed, several Bollywood celebrities, including Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Lara Dutta, and Deepika Padukone stepped out to exercise their franchise, occasionally obliging their fans with selfies and autographs. Actor Riteish Deshmukh and wife Genelia cast their vote in Latur district, where Amit and Dheeraj, brothers of Ritesh are contesting as Congress candidates. A nonagenarian grabbed eyeballs as he accompanied Union minister Smriti Irani outside a polling booth in Mumbai.
In Maharashtra’s Amravati district, three motorcycle-borne men fired at a candidate of Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksha from Morshi seat and also thrashed him after pulling him out of the vehicle. The unidentified men also set Devendra Bhuyar’s car ablaze, PTI quoted Shendurjana Ghat police station inspector Maruti Gedam as saying.
Bhuyar was going to Warud in a car along with some workers of the outfit when the three masked persons fired at him and later forcefully stopped the vehicle, pulled out its occupants and thrashed them. Bhuyar was rushed to the hospital where his condition is reported to be normal.
Reports of scuffles between Shiv Sena and NCP workers were reported from Beed before police diffused the situation and clashes were also reported from Jalna district. Meanwhile, Congress claimed it filed over 250 complaints of poll procedure violations with the Election Commission. The party said in a polling booth in Ramtek, the vote was shown to be going in favour of the BJP nominee even if the EVM button was pressed in favour of Congress candidate.
In Haryana, which is witnessing a four-cornered contest between BJP, Congress, INLD and its breakaway faction JJP, polling was violence-free barring stray incidents in Nuh and Kaithal, which saw stone-pelting.
A woman was injured in stone-pelting that took place between BJP and Congress supporters outside a polling booth in Nuh’s Malaaka village. “However, the polling process was not hampered and the situation is peaceful now,” Nuh SP said.
A similar incident of stone pelting was reported from Booth no. 17 in Kaithal and police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, JJP leader Dushyant Chautala alleged that “bogus voting” took place at a booth in Dumerkha Kalan village allegedly in connivance with a police official.
Dushyant said when he objected to it, an attempt was made to hurl a glass at him. “When I said a woman’s vote was cast in a bogus manner, five to six persons tried to hurl a glass at me. I have complained to the returning officer concerned about the police officer and others,” PTI quoted the Jannayak Janata Party leader as saying.