High Phase-8 turnout may help beat 1984 record

Fates of Rahul, Varun sealed; 66.2% turnout in 502 seats so far

The continued high turnout in the penultimate phase of the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday has raised hopes of attaining the best-ever voting percentage in the history of India’s electoral politics. The electoral fate of many political heavyweights, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), was sealed on Wednesday as 64 parliamentary constituencies across seven states went to the polls.
The polls passed off peacefully, except for an incident in which one person was killed when the police opened fire outside a polling booth in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district to prevent booth capturing.

Voting has now been completed in 502 parliamentary constituencies with a total poll percentage of 66.2 per cent. It was 56.94 per cent in 2009. Incidentally, the highest ever turnout, 64 per cent, was registered in 1984, when the Congress won a landslide victory in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In Andhra Pradesh, where Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions with 25 parliamentary and 175 Assembly seats went to the polls on Wednesday, 76.01 per cent voters exercised their franchise. The state has completed its poll process with the highest ever voter turnout of 73.46 per cent. This election is a watershed event as it is the first election after the decision to carve out a separate Telangana state. Voters cast their votes in Telangana region on April 30. The region which went to the polls Wednesday is crucial for YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy and the TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu.

In UP, where 15 seats went to the polls, there was an impressive voter turnout at 55.52 per cent, an increase of 12 per cent over 2009 (43.37 per cent). Barring a few complaints and counter-complaints by candidates in high-profile Amethi, polling in the rest of UP remained largely peaceful. The other important constituencies which went to the polls included Sultanpur, from where the BJP’s Varun Gandhi is in the fray. Bihar (58 per cent) also registered a massive increase in voter turnout — around 14 per cent more than in the 2009 election (44.7 per cent).

Polling was held for seven seats in Bihar. The fates of important leaders like RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s wife, Rabri Devi, and the BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Saran constituency have been sealed.

In West Bengal (six seats), the Left Front is in a battle for survival with the TMC as it currently holds all the constituencies. Continuing with the high voter turnout (over 80 per cent), this phase too registered 81.28 per cent.
Two hill states — Uttarakhand (all five seats) and Himachal Pradesh (all four seats) — went to the polls Wednesday; the voting percentage was 62 and 65 per cent, respectively. The two states registered their highest ever voter turnouts. In the last election, Uttarakhand saw 53.5 per cent polling and Himachal Pradesh 58.4 per cent. In Jammu Kashmir, where Baramulla and Ladakh went to the polls, the voter turnout was 49.98 per cent.

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