2019 Lok Sabha polls: High voter turnout in first phase

TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu accused the YSR Congress of indulging in violence to win the election.

New Delhi: The great Indian electoral tamasha rolled out on Thursday as 91 Lok Sabha constituencies in 21 states went to polls in the first phase of elections. At least two people were killed in clashes in Andhra Pradesh, there were IED blasts in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh and reports of EVM glitches and multiple complaints from voters about their names not being on the electoral list.

While no average polling percentage was available for the first phase in total, the highest polling percentage of 81 per cent was registered in West Bengal where the two North Bengal constituencies of Alipurduar and Cooch Behar voted. The lowest voter turnout — 50 per cent — was in Bihar where four seats went to the hustings.

Voter turnouts for the other states were: Arunachal Pradesh (66 per cent), Bihar (50 per cent), Lakshadweep (66 per cent), Maharashtra (56 per cent), Meghalaya (67.16 per cent), Odisha (68 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (63.69 per cent), Sikkim (69 per cent), Mizoram (60 per cent), Nagaland (78 per cent), Manipur (78.2 per cent), Tripura (81.8 per cent), Assam (68 per cent), West Bengal (81 per cent), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (70.67 per cent), Chhattisgarh (56 per cent) Telangana (60 per cent), Uttarakhand (57.85 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (54.49 per cent).

Andhra Pradesh, where simultaneously elections were held for state Assembly along with 25 Lok Sabha constituencies, saw a 66 per cent voter turnout. There were widespread reports of Electronic Voting Machine malfunction, missing names from voters’ list and sporadic violence as well.

One worker from the ruling Telugu Desam Party and one from the main Opposition, YSR Congress, were killed in a clash in a village in Tadipatri Assembly constituency in Anantapuramu district.

TDP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu accused the YSR Congress of indulging in violence to win the election.

“No developed country is using EVMs as they are prone to manipulation. We have hence been demanding that we revert to the ballot paper system,” Mr Naidu said after casting his vote in Undavalli village in Amravati amid numerous reports of EVMs not functioning properly.

The Opposition countered it by saying that the followers of local TDP MP and MLA, the J.C. brothers (MP J.C. Diwakar Reddy and MLA J.C. Prabhakar Reddy) tried to rig votes in a polling booth in Veerapuram village.

The two parties also clashed in other parts of the state. In other incidents, Madhusudan Gupta, a candidate of the Jana Sena Party, was arrested after he smashed an EVM in Guntakal, alleging that party symbols were not properly printed on the ballot unit.

Even as the Election Commission in a press conference claimed that there were no untoward incidents, the BSP claimed that in UP police stopped Dalit voters from going to poll booths.

CPI(M) cried foul in Tripura west, claiming people were not being allowed to vote for the party. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed voter names had been deleted across the country.

The Congress claimed that the Nagaland deputy chief minister voted eight times. According to reports, there was no voting in 15 Odisha booths because of the fear of Maoists.

Addressing an election rally in Silchar, Assam, hours before voting in the first phase ended, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he sensed a “massive Modi government wave”.

Mr Modi, whose BJP became the first party to gain majority on its own in three decades, said the mood in the country can be guessed by the crowds in his rallies. “Which way the winds are blowing, can be seen from your enthusiasm. Today voting is taking place in the first phase in some parts of the country. From what we know so far, a zabardast (massive) wave for ‘phir ek baar Modi Sarkar (Modi government again)’ is visible.”

Polling for the seven-phase general elections ends on May 19 and the results will be declared on May 23.

Apart from Andhra Pradesh, there were reports of violence from other states as well. In Maharashtra, Naxals triggered an IED blast near a polling booth in Waghezari area of Gadchiroli district while voting was underway, police said. There were no casualties. Later in the day, two police commandos escorting a poll party were injured in an IED blast in Etapalli in the district.

In the Naxal stronghold of Chhattisgarh, four guerrillas were arrested and firearms seized from them in Bijapur district while the poll process was underway.

In Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh, BSF personnel fired in the air at a polling booth when some people, who were not carrying their identity cards, tried to forcibly enter the premises to cast their votes, police said.

There were reports of EVM glitches and voters not being allowed to exercise their franchise as well.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter and tagged people who claimed their names or the names of their relatives has been deleted from voter lists.

“What is happening EC? Are these elections fair?” Mr Kejriwal asked.

“Anti-BJP votes deleted all across India. Reports coming from all across India that votes have been deleted on unprecedented scale. Why are all faulty EVM machines seen to be voting always for BJP?” he said in a tweet.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference and the PDP alleged that uniformed personnel coerced people to vote for the BJP and EVMs malfunctioned in some places with the Congress button not working during polling in Jammu’s Poonch area.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted a video showing voters raising anti-BJP slogans after they were purportedly roughed up by the BSF for not voting for the BJP.

“Using armed forces at polling stations to coerce people to vote for the BJP shows their desperation & hunger to usurp power by hook or crook,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said in her tweet.

Keep yourself updated on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 with our round-the-clock coverage -- breaking news, updates, analyses etc all. Happy reading.

Next Story