Bengaluru: A total of 59 seats went to polls in the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha elections. A total of 10.17 crore people were eligible to cast their votes from Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. This phase witnessed a turnout of 60 percent, with West Bengal witnessing the highest voter turnout with 80 percent, while Uttar Pradesh had the lowest turnout with 51 percent till 6 pm.
The process of voting was marred by instances of violence, EVM malfunction and boycotts across the country. BJP candidate for Ghatal Bharti Ghosh’s convoy was allegedly attacked by TMC workers. The West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer has sought a report from the District Magistrate of Ghatal on the attack on Ghosh's convoy. A BJP delegation led by the state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar met the CEO of West Bengal to discuss the violations and discrepancies in this phase of elections.
In Madhya Pradesh, Alok Sharma, a senior BJP leader and Mayor of Bhopal reached Gautam Nagar police station on Sunday morning after just one hour of polling. He alleged that Bhopal North MLA and Cabinet minister in the Kamal Nath government Arif Aqueel's brother Aamir Aqueel threatened the BJP's polling agent and brandished a weapon. According to police officials, the incident took place at the DIG Bungalow polling centre where an unidentified man attacked a polling agent of BJP.
"The BJP has no arrangement of a polling agent in ward 16 as the booth falls in Arif Aqueel’s stronghold. So we asked the election officials to allow us to send a polling agent from a nearby booth. When the agent went to sit near the booth to help voters, Aamir Aqueel sent goons to attack the agent," Sharma said.
Voters were disgruntled as widespread EVM failures were reported from across states. Commencement of voting was delayed at booth numbers 125, 127, 128 and 131 in Jaunpur constituency, at booth number 16 in Pratapgarh constituency and at booth numbers 238, 279, 398, and 404 in Shrawasti Lok Sabha constituency of Uttar Pradesh. EVM malfunctions were also reported from booths numbers 71, 274 and 278, of Sultanpur. There was a delay in the start of voting at booth numbers 205 and 329 in the same constituency. Voting began after a delay of one and a half hours at Badlapur, part of Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat. There were more than 4,500 voters who were waiting in the queue to cast their vote after polling was held up due to EVM malfunction.
In Machhlishahr's booth number 369 and Jaunpur's booth numbers 125, 127, 128 and 131, the start of voting was delayed. The highest turnout in Uttar Pradesh was recorded at Ambedkar Nagar with 55 percent while Pratapgarh recorded the lowest turnout with 51 percent till 6 pm.
A faulty EVM was replaced in the morning at booth number 135 in Panchkula, part of Ambala Lok Sabha constituency in Haryana. However, this new EVM too stopped working after some time due to a fresh glitch, pausing the polling process once again.
Voting was delayed by two hours at booth number 301 in Riga under the Sheohar constituency in Bihar due to EVM malfunction. Bihar recorded a voter turnout of 55 percent till 6 pm with Paschim Champaran recording the highest polling percentage in the state with 63 percent while Maharajganj was the lowest with 47 percent till 6 pm
Engineer suspended for taking EVM home
An assistant engineer of the Rural Engineering Service was booked for allegedly taking an EVM to his home in Guna. The accused, AK Shrivastav, was posted for election duty and he allegedly took the EVM to his home. Guna SDM Shivani Raikwar inspected the house and seized the machine. The accused assistant engineer was also suspended from duty. Madhya Pradesh recorded a polling percentage of 60 percent, with Rajgarh recording the highest polling percentage in the state with 68 percent and Bhind recording the lowest with 51 percent till 6 pm
In West Bengal, EVM malfunctions were reported at Paschim Medinipur's booth numbers 163, 155 and 175, in the Chandipur Kalikakhali village. In Madhya Pradesh, EVM glitches delayed voting at Laharpur Baghmugakiya extension's polling booth in Bhopal.
Booth numbers 116,117, 122 in Malviya Nagar of South Delhi constituency and some booths of Ballimaran under Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency reported EVM malfunctioning. Congress and AAP had alleged that EVM malfunctions were reported from areas dominated by Muslims. Delhi BJP leader Praveen Shankar responded to the charge by saying, “Aam Aadmi Party is raising bogus issues to defend their defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and it's a step to gain political mileage."
Delhi witnessed a voter turnout of 55 percent with North East Delhi recording 58 percent, while New Delhi recorded the lowest turnout with 54 percent till 6 pm
Incidents of poll boycott were reported across different constituencies in the Hindi belt. In Uttar Pradesh, over 800 residents of Bariyapur under Allahabad Lok Sabha constituency have boycotted the polls over the demand for an underpass. The villagers gathered near the railway track to protest. Villagers claimed that they have spoken to the district administration and the MLA but haven’t seen any impact. A similar situation was also witnessed in the Sahijanpur village in Pratapgarh LS constituency. Voters boycotted elections in Fatehnagra village, Kauvapur Block, Balrampur district, Uttar Pradesh as they say they have been deprived of the basic amenities like electricity, roads and water and are disappointed by the government.
In Jharkhand, vote boycott was witnessed in booth no 90 at Toklo of Chakradharpur under Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituency. Villagers boycotted the voting and demanded good roads. Jharkhand witnessed a voter turnout of 64 percent with Singhbhum recording the highest turnout with 68 percent while Dhanbad recorded the lowest turnout with 60 percent till 6 pm.
In Haryana, villagers of Bhakli boycotted the Lok Sabha election. Till 10 am, not even a single voter voted at booth no. 12, 13, 14 in Rohtak and Kosli. The villagers were protesting over the notification of making Kosli a municipality. The villagers demanded the removal of Bhakli from Kosli municipality, but officials rejected the demand.
Haryana witnessed a voter turnout of 63 percent with Karnal recording the lowest polling turnout with 56 percent. Kurukshetra recorded the lowest turnout with 68 percent till 6 pm.
In West Bengal, the reasons for boycott were different altogether. In Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituency, booth numbers 253 and 226, villagers boycotted polling claiming that central forces are harassing the men and not letting women cast their vote. They also added that the central forces were asking them to vote for the BJP. In West Bengal, Tamluk witnessed the highest voter turnout of 83 percent while Bankura recorded the lowest turnout with 76 percent till 6 pm.
(The author is a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com)
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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 19:58:57 IST