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Posted at: May 19, 2019, 8:32 AM; last updated: May 19, 2019, 7:19 PM (IST)

LS polls: Violence in Bengal, clashes in Punjab; over 61% polling in last phase

LS polls: Violence in Bengal, clashes in Punjab; over 61% polling in last phase
Voters stand in a queue at a polling station in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI

New Delhi, May 19

Incidents of violence in West Bengal and clashes in Punjab were reported during the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha polls on Sunday, with over 61 per cent turnout being recorded in 59 seats.

Over 8,000 candidates were in fray for 542 Lok Sabha seats across the country in the Lok Sabha elections.

The last phase, which decided the fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also saw EVM glitches and poll boycott at some booths.

Voting took place in 13 seats of Punjab and an equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat in Chandigarh.

In Uttar Pradesh, 55.52 per cent voting was recorded in 13 Lok Sabha seats, officials said.

The turnout in Varanasi was 53.58 per cent, while in Gorakhpur, it was 56.47 per cent, the Election Commission said.

Violence erupted in Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency, where state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Mahendra Nath Pandey is seeking re-election, when supporters of the saffron party and the Samajwadi Party clashed. The situation was later brought under control.

A report from Chandauli said the fingers of Dalits had been inked before they could actually cast their vote in Tara Jivanpur village under Alinagar police station. Officials said an FIR was registered in the matter.

Incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal where 73.40 per cent of over 1.49 crore electorate exercised their franchise in nine Lok Sabha seats.

According to BJP’s North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha, a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park in the constituency around noon. Police, however, said crackers were burst in the area, and polling was underway peacefully.

In Kolkata south, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was stopped from entering polling booths.

Sporadic clashes were reported in Kolkata and its surrounding areas, with TMC workers claiming that voters were being intimidated by central forces outside booths.

BJP candidate Nilanjan Roy in Diamond Harbour constituency alleged that his car was vandalised in Budge Budge area. Similar reports also came in from Jadavpur constituency, where BJP candidate Anupam Hazra’s car came under the attack of unidentified men.

“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,” an election official told 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 saw a polling percentage of 59 per cent in 13 Lok Sabha seats. In lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, 63.57 per cent turnout was registered. Maximum polling percentage was witnessed at 64.18 in Patiala and the lowest was in Amritsar at 52.47.

In the morning, there were some reports of technical glitches in EVMs at several places 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 have been replaced.

There were also reports of clashes between Congress and Akali-BJP workers in Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda and Gurdaspur. At Talwandi Sabo, Akalis alleged that shots were also fired by ruling party workers.

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. Voting restarted after the nine faulty EVMs were replaced, a state election officer said.

A turnout of 132 per cent has been recorded in the world’s highest polling station in Lahaul and Spiti district’s Tashigang village, a district official said.

In Madhya Pradesh, 69.36 per cent voter turnout was recorded in eight Lok Sabha seats.

However, voters listed at a booth in Agar Malwa district falling under the Dewas seat and five booths in Mandsaur seat boycotted the polling over their demands. Efforts were on to persuade voters to exercise their democratic right, an official said.

The official said around 12 people cast their votes at the polling booth in Dewas after being persuaded by election officials there.

Bihar witnessed 53.36 per cent voting in eight Lok Sabha seats.

An election official said, “Going by reports that reached us from district headquarters, we have found out that the voting process was temporarily hampered at few polling stations in Ara, Sasaram, Jehanabad, Pataliputr and Buxar. Officials have attended to the complaints and redressed all grievances,” he said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, an estimated 70.97 per cent of the total 45,64,681 voters exercised their franchise in three Lok Sabha seats.

In the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, over 10.01 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. The Election Commission has set up more than 1.12 lakh polling stations and has deployed security personnel for smooth conduct of polls.

An average of 66.88 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the last six phases and the whole elections were spread over 38 days. Counting of votes will be taken up on May 23. — PTI

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