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LS polls come to close; over 64 pc voting recorded in last phase

PTI     May 19, 2019

(Eds: Updates figure) New Delhi, May 19 (PTI) Voting for the marathon seven-phased Lok Sabha elections came to a close on Sunday as 64.26 per cent turnout was recorded in the the last phase of polls in 59 seats, which also featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi. The highest ever voter turnout for a Lok Sabha election at 66.40 per cent was recorded in 2014. The cumulative turnout for the first six phases stood at 67.34 per cent, which is 1.21 percentage point more than the 2014 figures in corresponding seats. The Election Commission has so far not provided the overall polling percentage for all the seven phases. For the last phase, 'Voter Turnout' app of the Election Commission recorded 64.26 per cent polling till 10 pm. The election also witnessed differences within the EC with Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa writing dissent notes on the poll panel's clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah on complaints of violation of model code of conduct. Over 8,000 candidates were in fray for 542 Lok Sabha seats across the country this year. Polling in Tamil Nadu's Vellore was deferred over abuse of money power. EVM glitches and incidents of violence in West Bengal and Punjab were reported Sunday amid poll boycott at some booths. The fate of 918 candidates was decided in this phase. Voting took place in 13 seats of Punjab and an equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh. In UP, 56.84 per cent voting was recorded, officials said. The turnout in Varanasi was 58.05 per cent, while Gorakhpur recorded 57.38 per cent voting, the EC said. The highest turnout was 62.40 per cent in Maharajganj, while Ballia reported the lowest at 52.50 per cent. Violence erupted in the Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency of UP, where state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey is seeking reelection, when supporters of the saffron party and the Samajwadi Party clashed. A report from Chandauli said the fingers of some Dalit voters were inked before they could actually cast their vote in Tara Jivanpur village under Alinagar police station. Officials said an FIR was registered. There were also reports of poll boycott from certain places in Gorakhpur, Mirzapur, Varanasi and Mau. Incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal where 73.51 per cent of over 1.49 crore electorate exercised their franchise. According to BJP's North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha, a crude bomb was hurled near the Girish Park around noon. Police, however, said these were crackers and polling was peaceful. In Kolkata south, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged she was stopped from entering polling booths. In Kolkata and its surrounding areas, TMC workers claimed voters were being intimidated by central forces. BJP candidate Nilanjan Roy in Diamond Harbour constituency alleged his car was vandalized in Budge Budge area. In the Jadavpur constituency, BJP candidate Anupam Hazra's car was allegedly attacked by 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," a poll 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. There were reports of clashes, allegedly between the BJP and TMC activists, from Kankinada under the Bhatpara Assembly seat where a bypoll was underway. The Barrackpore Police Commissionerate deployed Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation there, a senior poll official said. Punjab saw a polling percentage of 59 per cent in 13 seats. In Chandigarh seat, about 64 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 Dal workers in Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda, Moga and Sangrur. At Talwandi Sabo, Akalis alleged that shots were also fired by ruling party workers. In Himachal Pradesh, around 68 per cent turnout was recorded in four Lok Sabha seats where five MLAs, including a state minister, are among the 45 candidates in the fray. A turnout of 132 per cent was recorded in the world's highest polling station in Lahaul and Spiti district's Tashigang village, a district official said. 32 members of poll staff deployed at the polling station and several nearby booths also cast their votes there, the official said. In Madhya Pradesh, 71.15 per cent turnout was recorded in eight seats. Bihar witnessed 53.55 per cent voting in as many seats. Private security guards of RJD's Tej Pratap Yadav beat some photo journalists at a polling booth in Patna after one of them allegedly smashed the windscreen of the ex-Bihar minister's vehicle, enraged after the car crushed the toes of a fellow lensman. Voting was temporarily hampered at few polling stations in Arrah, Sasaram, Jehanabad, Pataliputr and Buxar. In Jharkhand, over 70.54 per cent of the total 45,64,681 voters exercised their franchise. In the last phase of polls, over 10.01 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. PTI TEAM TIR TIR

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