LS elections fourth phase: Over 52 per cent polling recorded till 3 pm

NEW DELHI : A voter turnout of more than 52 per cent was recorded till 3 pm on Monday in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls in 96 constituencies spread over 10 states and Union Territories amid incidents of violence in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal as well as reports of poll boycott in some Uttar Pradesh villages.

There were also reports of EVMs malfunctioning at some booths in West Bengal and Odisha.

According to the Election Commission, a voting percentage of 52.60 was recorded till 3 pm. The voting which started at 7 am will continue till 6 pm.

Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the lowest voting percentage till 3 pm with 29.93 per cent of voters exercising their franchise, while West Bengal recorded the highest with 66.05 per cent.

Among other states, Andhra Pradesh recorded 55.49 per cent polling, Bihar 45.23 per cent, Jharkhand 46.42 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 59.63 per cent, Maharashtra 42.35 per cent, Odisha 52.91 per cent, Telangana 52.34 per cent and Uttar Pradesh 48.41 per cent.

BJP candidate in Telangana’s Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat K Madhavi Latha was booked by election authorities after a video clip surfaced online in which she was purportedly seen asking burqa-clad women voters to show their faces to compare with the photo identity cards.

Violence was reported from parts of Andhra Pradesh with YSRCP and TDP leaders hurling accusations against each other. YSRCP leader and Tenali MLA A Shiva Kumar allegedly manhandled a voter in Tenali following an argument, police said, adding the voter also retaliated.

At Dalavaipalli village in Railway Kodur constituency, an EVM was destroyed while cars belonging to the ruling party and TDP were damaged, a police official said. A TDP agent was attacked at Nakkaladinne village in Myduruku constituency, leading to his hospitalisation.

The YSRCP alleged that party agent Suresh Reddy was stabbed at Mandi Krishnapuram village in Chittoor’s Gudipala mandal. It also alleged that TDP supporters attacked party member B Anji Reddy at Aravallipadu in the Darsi constituency.

TDP MLC Mohammed Ahmed Shariff wrote a letter to Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Kumar Meena, complaining about alleged attacks by YSRCP cadres on TDP supporters at Rentala village in Rentichintala mandal of Palnadu district.

In Uttar Pradesh, there were instances of poll boycotts with people in some villages of Shahjahanpur keeping away from the process to protest against the lack of roads and development.

Sporadic incidents of violence marred the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls in the eight parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal as TMC and BJP workers clashed in various areas under Birbhum and Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seats.

Although the poll panel claimed that voting in the state has been peaceful so far, it said it has received 1,088 complaints from different political parties alleging EVM malfunctioning and agents being stopped from entering booths.

EVM glitches were also reported in several places in Odisha. An official said 65 Ballot Units, 83 Control Units and 110 VVPATs have been replaced so far and most of the replacements were done during the mock poll exercise before starting of real voting at 7 am.

The Election Commission suspended two polling officials in Odisha for dereliction of duty, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Nikunja Bihari Dhal said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, security forces thwarted an attempt by Maoists to obstruct voter access to polling booths by felling a tree and blocking a road leading to remote Sonapi and Morangponga areas of West Singhbhum district.

Voting was progressing peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir where three generations of the Abdullah family cast their vote in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. However, a number of displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu were unable to cast their vote as their names were missing from the electoral rolls.

A total of 1,717 candidates are in the fray in the Lok Sabha seats and there are over 17.70 crore eligible voters, including 8.73 women, in this round of the seven-phase polls.

Polling is being held in all 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 11 in Maharashtra, four in Odisha, eight in West Bengal and one in Jammu and Kashmir.

Till phase three of the Lok Sabha elections, polling was held in 283 seats out of 543. After today’s round, polling will conclude in 379 seats.

The voter turnout in the first three phases of the Lok Sabha elections was 66.14 per cent, 66.71 per cent and 65.68 per cent, respectively.

Polling for the next three phases in the country will be held on May 20, May 25 and June 1. The counting of votes is on June 4.