Bengaluru: The third phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw the maximum number of seats — 117 — going to polls in a phase. More than 18 crore voters were eligible to decide the fate of 1,640 candidates contesting across 13 states and two Union Territories.
Tuesday’s voting was marred by violence in West Bengal and poll boycotts in many parts of Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
While elections were conducted on all 26 constituencies in Gujarat and all 20 in Kerala, Karnataka’s remaining 14 seats, Chhattisgarh’s last seven seats, Assam’s final four and Tripura’s solitary remaining seat also went to polls, completing the voting process across these states. Polling was also conducted across 14 constituencies in Maharashtra, 10 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, six constituencies in Odisha and five constituencies in West Bengal. Both seats in Goa and Union Territories — Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli — also went to polls Tuesday, along with Anantnag constituency in Jammu & Kashmir, where voting will be conducted in three phases, ending with the fifth.
The overall voter turnout in phase three was at 64.66 percent till now, while among states, West Bengal with 79.36 percent (till 6 pm) recorded the highest voter turnout. Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout at 56.25 percent.
A call for election boycott
Several villages across Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra vowed to boycott the election process, unhappy with the lack of development in their regions. In Karnataka’s Shimoga constituency, residents of Shivamogga city pledged to boycott the elections citing shortage of water resources, a functional drainage system and lack of infrastructural development. Protesters led by the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti said, “Unless basic infrastructure is promised, we will not vote”.
Similarly, residents of Shiggaon village, under Sagar taluk in Shivamogga district, also boycotted voting. Nearly 150 families have come together to implement this decision citing the failure of authorities in improving infrastructure like roads, continuous water and electricity supply, and drainage system in and around their village area. No voters turned up at the polling booths in the region.
Another village in Shivamogga taluk saw empty polling booths after residents decided to boycott the general elections. Stating that infrastructural development has not been initiated, this decision was taken collectively by almost 400 members of the village. Girish, a tahsildar from the village, said only after visiting the region can the problems of villagers be gauged.
A different problem faced by residents of Malavalli village in Shivamogga pushed them to boycott the elections. They claim the district administration has shown a “lethargic” attitude towards demands for proper burial grounds for the deceased. They promised to not vote until their demands were fulfilled by respective authorities and the election commission.
Despite the widespread boycott calls, the constituency recorded 72.64 percent voting till 6 pm.
In Sultanpur village, in Bidar Lok Sabha constituency, too, villagers decided to boycott elections. This decision was taken due to lack of development and steady water supply in the village.
Bidar recorded 60.51 percent turnout till 6 pm.
In Gujarat’s Davdahad village, part of Dahod Lok Sabha constituency which saw a voter turnout of 62.87 percent till 6 pm, residents called for a boycott of elections citing lack of basic facilities and infrastructural development in the area. Similarly, Nanda village residents, under the Kutch Lok Sabha seat, called for a boycott of the voting process until water shortage in their region is not solved. Residents of Jafrabad and neighbouring villages, in Amreli Lok Sabha constituency, also took the decision to boycott the general elections. Jafrabad villagers stated that there is a “lack of political will” on the part of the leadership to fix the region’s developmental problems.
Till 6 pm, Kutch and Amreli constituencies witnessed 52.38 percent and 52.02 percent of their voters turning up respectively.
Eighteen villages in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district — which is a Lok Sabha constituency — also called for a boycott of elections today. Villages like Vetawade and Panhala reportedly registered zero percent voting as of noon. According to locals, the boycott is in protest of the Dhamani Dam project. Kolhapur recorded 65.76 percent turnout till 6 pm.
Bursts of violence across the East
The northeastern state of Tripura — that sent its final seat for elections today — saw a few incidents of violence. About 25 families from Durgapur village in Khowai area, under East Tripura Lok Sabha constituency, decided to boycott the polls in protest against the alleged assault on Sabir Mia, a local youth, by members of the central security force.
Two women activists were also injured when security forces attacked a mob. Sabita Bhowmik, a local leader of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha at Sabroom in South Tripura, was wounded when security forces resorted to baton charge to disperse a mob. A BJP delegation met Special Election Observer Vinod Zutshi to complain about security forces terrorising ordinary voters across Tripura East constituency. The party said several supporters, including a female activist, was injured in an unprovoked baton charge by security forces. Tripura East recorded 78.52 percent turnout till 6 pm.
Several incidents of violence occurred in West Bengal’s Murshidabad. Despite this, the constituency recorded the maximum voter turnout (83.38 percent) among the five constituencies in the state that went to polls in the third phase.
In Domkal and Raninanagar, crude bombs were hurled at voters to intimidate them. One person was injured in the attack in Domkal.
Again, in Domkal, the husband of a Trinamool Congress councillor was injured in clashes between TMC and Congress workers. TMC has blamed the Congress and CPM for the attack. In a separate incident, clashes between TMC and Congress workers regarding alleged booth capturing left three TMC cadres injured. All three are students at the Murshidabad medical college.
An individual, Tiyarul Kalam (55), was the first fatality amidst clashes between TMC and Congress workers in Murshidabad’s Baligram. A polling officer, Babulal Murmu, in South Dinajpur was found hanging at his residence. Murmu's wife alleges that he committed suicide due to pressure regarding incidents of violence from the first two electoral phases.
The police had to resort to lathi-charge in Jangipur constituency, where TMC workers were allegedly trying to intimidate voters. The lathi-charge left three injured. At booth 45 in Indirani village, Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency, Congress block president Abdus Salam was beaten brutally, allegedly by TMC workers. A child was injured and shops were also vandalised in this attack. Similarly, in Ratua, several voters complained that Congress and TMC cadre workers attempted to influence and intimidate voters. Jangipur witnessed a voter turnout of 78.58 percent.
In South Dinajpur, BJP supporters and villagers were allegedly beaten up by TMC party workers. A TMC polling agent was found threatening villagers against voting for the BJP, which led to a scuffle. Security forces rushed to break up the fight.
In Chikkodi, Karnataka, the situation was tense after a clash between Congress and BJP workers. At booths 16 and 17, in Chikkodi’s Indira Nagar Gate, both leading party’s workers accused the other group of influencing voter decisions, resulting in a scuffle. Security forces, including Chikkodi ASP Mithun Kumar, were deployed at both booths to bring the situation under control. No injuries were reported. Chikkodi recorded 71.26 percent of turnout till 6 pm.
Polling booths in Chun Chuna and Pundang in Chhattisgarh were shifted after a small intensity blast took place. Stray incidents of polling officers being beaten up by party workers occurred in Anantnag in Jammu & Kashmir and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Voting was carried out relatively peacefully across the remaining states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, Assam, Odisha and other states.
With inputs from Syed Sajjad Ali, A Ghose and AS Kamalakshi
(The author is a reporter with 101Reporters.com)
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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2019 23:15:09 IST