Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Over 62 pc turnout in phase 1

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‘First and biggest phase of the seven-phase elections remained largely peaceful’

New Delhi, April 19: A voter turnout of nearly 63 per cent was recorded in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections covering 102 seats across 21 states and Union territories amid sporadic incidents of violence at some places and an accidental explosion of a grenade launcher shell in Chhattisgarh that left a CRPF jawan dead.
The Election Commission said polling for the first and biggest phase of the seven-phase elections remained largely peaceful.
Voters braved the heat in most parts while at some places, they waited patiently in pouring rain as the world’s largest poll exercise got underway at 7 am.
The National Democratic alliance (NDA) under Prime Minister Modi is seeking a stronger majority for a third consecutive term, while the constituents of the opposition INDIA bloc are hoping for a rebound after facing reverses in the 2014 and 2019 elections.
Tripura recorded the highest turnout of 80.17 per cent, followed by West Bengal at 77.57, Meghalaya 74.21 per cent, Puducherry 73.50 per cent, and Assam 72.10. Voters in six districts of eastern Nagaland stayed indoors following an indefinite shutdown call by an apex body of tribal organisations to press for its demand for a separate state. Tamil Nadu, where the BJP is trying to make inroads, was among the seven states and three Union territories where polling was held for all the seats.
Assembly elections were also held simultaneously in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
The tentative figure at 9 pm of voter turnout of 62.37 per cent is likely to go upwards when reports from all polling stations are obtained, the EC said, adding voters reaching polling stations till the end of polling hour are allowed to cast their vote.
Among the voters were first-timers, many newly-wed couples who came in their traditional attires, physically-challenged people and some elderly persons carried on stretchers and wheelchairs.
Minor EVM glitches were reported at some booths in Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Assam.
In West Bengal, polling was marred by violence in the Cooch Behar seat. TMC and BJP workers clashed with each other and lodged 80 and 39 complaints respectively related to poll violence, voter intimidation, and assault on poll agents, sources from both parties said.
In strife-torn Manipur, an impressive turnout of 69.13 per cent was recorded. Wangkhem in Thoubal district had the highest turnout among the 32 assembly constituencies under Inner Manipur at 82.41 per cent. In Outer Manipur, Chandel, which has both Naga and Kuki voters, recorded the highest turnout at 85.54 per cent.
Incidents of shooting and intimidation were reported from several places in Inner Manipur seat, officials said.
Armed men fired several rounds in the air near a polling booth in Thamnapokpi under Moirang assembly constituency in Bishnupur district, prompting voters to flee, police said, adding additional security personnel were rushed to the spot to control the situation.
In Chhattisgarh, 63.41 per cent voters cast their votes in the Naxal-hit Bastar Lok Sabha constituency where the CRPF jawan after the grenade accidentally went off while an officer was injured in an IED blast in another incident.
For the first time in a Lok Sabha election, voters in 56 villages in Bastar cast their vote in a polling booth set up in their own village.
In Tamil Nadu, where polling is spread over 39 constituencies, a voting percentage of over 65.19 was recorded. Voting was delayed by an hour in some polling booths in the state such as the one near Tambaram due to technical glitches in the electronic voting machines.
Arunachal Pradesh saw 67.15 per cent of the total 8,92,694 voters exercising their franchise.Though the turnout was moderate in the morning hours due to inclement weather, it gathered momentum with weather conditions improving.
In a few polling stations in the state, polling was delayed as the electronic voting machines (EVMs) developed technical snags which were later replaced, Chief Electoral Officer Pawan Kumar Sain said. Supporters of two candidates clashed near a polling station in the Bameng constituency in East Kameng district, Inspector General of Police (Law & Order) Chukhu Apa said, adding the situation was brought under control and polling is continuing. Incidents of EVM damage were also reported from three polling stations in East Kameng, Kurung Kumey and Upper Subansiri districts, the police officer said.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands saw a voting percentage of 56.87 per cent.There were some minor EVM glitches but it was addressed immediately, officials said.
For the first time in the Union territory, seven members of the Shompen tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal group of Great Nicobar Islands voted for the lone Lok Sabha seat.
Assam also reported EVM malfunctioning at three polling booths of Bihpuria in Lakhimpur, one each in Hojai, Kaliabor and Bokakhat, and one in Naharkatia of Dibrugarh, an official said.
“Most of the glitches were noticed during the mock poll, which started 90 minutes before the commencement of actual voting. Those glitches were rectified immediately. Voting started sometime late in those booths and now it is going smoothly,” an official said. A vehicle carrying an EVM partially sank into a river after water level rose suddenly, washing away a mechanised boat that was ferrying the SUV in Lakhimpur constituency. The driver and the polling officer of the vehicle managed to get out before water gushed into the vehicle. Around 48.50 per cent of the 75 lakh voters in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar exercised their franchise.
Braving incessant rains, 65.08 per cent of voters exercised their choice in the first six hours of polling in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur parliamentary constituency.
In Rajasthan, 56.58 per cent voting took place while Uttarakhand saw 54.06 per cent polling.
In Maharashtra, a voter turnout of 55.35 per cent was recorded while the six Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh recorded a voter turnout of 64.77 per cent.
Uttar Pradesh witnessed 58.49 per cent voting, Mizoram 54.23, Nagaland 56.91 and Sikkim 69.47.
Over 16.63 crore people are eligible to vote in this phase. In the first phase, there are 35.67 lakh first time voters, besides 3.51 crore young voters in the age group of 20-29 years. (PTI)

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