A total of 59 seats went to polls in the final phase of the Lok Sabha election on Sunday, marking an end to the gruelling and extremely-long voting schedule in India. The seventh and the final phase witnessed a voter turnout of 61.21 percent till 6 pm, indicating a pattern in the poll percentage during this election season — 69.57 percent for first phase, 69.44 percent for second, 68.40 for third, 65.51 for fourth, 61.48 percent for fifth, and 60.21 for sixth.
An average of 66.88 percent voters exercised their franchise in the last six phases and the elections were spread over 38 days. On Sunday, incidents of violence and EVM glitches marred polling in some areas.
In Punjab's Bathinda, where Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is seeking re-election, clashes broke out between two groups outside a polling booth in Talwandi Sabo. One man was injured after a group, allegedly linked to the Congress, fired bullets and allegedly vandalised chairs and some vehicles during the clashes at polling number 122 in Talwandi Sabo. A case was registered under 307 of IPC.
In Uttar Pradesh, violence erupted in Chandauli when BJP supporters clashed with Samajwadi Party cadres. The situation was later brought under control. Reports also said that the fingers of some Dalit voters in Chandauli were inked before they could cast their vote in Tara Jivanpur village under Alinagar police station. Officials told PTI an FIR was registered in the matter.
West Bengal, where nine seats went to polls on Sunday, was in the news for several reasons, including poll violence and allegations of malpractice.
BJP's North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha alleged that a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park in the constituency around noon. Police, however, said crackers were burst in the area, and the polling process was unaffected by it.
In Kolkata Dakshin, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was stopped from entering polling booths. Sporadic clashes were reported in Kolkata and its surrounding areas, with TMC workers claiming that voters were being intimidated by central forces outside booths.
BJP candidate Nilanjan Roy in Diamond Harbour constituency alleged that his car was vandalised in Budge Budge area. Similar reports also came in from Jadavpur constituency, where BJP candidate Anupam Hazra's car came under the attack of 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," an election official, however, 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."
Hazra also alleged that special ink mark was put on the TMC symbol on an EVM in Kolkata to misguide illiterate and semi-literate voters. He claimed that the president officer was telling the voters to press on the ink mark on TMC button if they didn't know to understand Bengali.
After casting her vote in Kolkata, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the BJP and the central security forces deployed for "torturing" the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after casting her vote: Since morning the torture that BJP workers and CRPF have done during polling in our state, I have never seen it before. #LokSabhaElections2019 pic.twitter.com/Oev54FJ8ZZ
— ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2019
Meanwhile, CPM general-secretary Sitaram Yechury spoke to Chief Election Commission Sunil Arora over the "large-scale attempts at rigging and violence" in Dum Dum, Diamond Harbour, Kolkata Uttar, Jadavpur. "We hope at this final stage of the poll, they can ensure that people are allowed to vote, freely and fairly," Yechury tweeted. The state witnessed 73.40 percent turnout.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) approached the Election Commission (EC), alleging poll code violation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to his Kedarnath-Badrinath visit.
CNN-News18 quoted TDP president Chandrababu Naidu as saying in his letter to the EC that Modi was "canvassing in disguise". According to ANI, the TDP's letter said: "Modi has gone to Badrinath and Kedarnath on an official visit. All the private activities done by him during his pilgrimage are being displayed and continuously telecast, which is a clear violation of the MCC."
Punjab saw a polling of 59 percent in 13 Lok Sabha seats. In lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, 63.57 percent 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 had been replaced.
There were also reports of clashes between Congress and Akali-BJP workers in Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda and Gurdaspur. At Talwandi Sabo, Akalis alleged that shots were also fired by ruling party workers.
In Himachal Pradesh, 66.70 percent turnout was recorded till 5 pm in four Lok Sabha seats where five MLAs, including a state minister, are among the 45 candidates in the fray.
EVM snags delayed voting at nine polling stations. Voting restarted after the nine faulty EVMs were replaced, a state election officer said.
A turnout of 132 percent has been recorded in the world's highest polling station in Lahaul and Spiti district's Tashigang village, a district official said.
In Madhya Pradesh, 69.36 percent voter turnout was recorded in eight Lok Sabha seats.
However, voters listed at a booth in Agar Malwa district falling under the Dewas seat and five booths in Mandsaur seat boycotted the polling over their demands. Efforts were on to persuade voters to exercise their democratic right, an official said.
The official said around 12 people cast their votes at the polling booth in Dewas after being persuaded by election officials there. Bihar witnessed 53.36 percent voting in eight Lok Sabha seats.
An election official told PTI, "Going by reports that reached us from district headquarters, we found out that the voting process was temporarily hampered at few polling stations in Ara, Sasaram, Jehanabad, Pataliputr and Buxar. Officials have attended to the complaints and redressed all grievances."
In neighbouring Jharkhand, an estimated 70.97 percent of the total 45,64,681 voters exercised their franchise in three Lok Sabha seats.
On Sunday, voting took place in 13 seats of Punjab and an equal number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight seats each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat Chandigarh.
Votes will be counted on 23 May.
With inputs from agencies
Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.
Updated Date: May 19, 2019 21:27:51 IST