New Delhi: Amid widespread violence in West Bengal, EVM glitches in Rajasthan and Jharkhand, and officials removed in Odisha, voter turnout touched almost 40 per cent till 2 p.m. in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday.
Despite clashes between Trinamool and BJP workers in Asansol, Bengal voter registered the highest poll percentage of 52.37 per cent, while the lowest was in Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir, which was just a little over 7 per cent.
Poll percentage was 37.71 per cent in five seats of Bihar; 43.44 for six seats of Madhya Pradesh; 29.95 in 17 seats of Maharashtra; 35.79 in six seats of Odisha; 44.62 for 13 seats of Rajasthan; 34.42 in 13 seats of Uttar Pradesh and 44.90 in three seats of Jharkhand.
In Anantnag which voted in the second phase of its three-phased election, the outcome was pathetic with security forces having to use pellet shots and tear smoke to disperse stone pelters. Reports said four protesters sustained pellet injuries during these clashes.
Of the 72 seats in nine states where polls were underway, West Bengal saw widespread intimidation and violence including clashes outside polling booths. Long queues of men and women were seen outside polling booths in Baharampur, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Birbhum and Bolpur constituencies.
Union Minister and Asansol’s BJP candidate Babul Supriyo’s car was vandalised outside a polling station in Barabani. The leader escaped unharmed.
“Our polling agent was not allowed to sit by the Trinamool Congress supporters in a booth in Barabani. Babulda took the agent with him inside the booth and asked the presiding officer to make arrangements so that he could sit there. While returning, Trinamool activists surrounded his vehicle and some pelted stones, breaking the rear glass,” a BJP leader told IANS.
Supriyo alleged that a BJP agent at one booth at Jamuria was not allowed to take his place in the polling booth. In the Bagarampur Lok Sabha constituency, sitting MP and senior Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury accused Trinamool workers of hindering voting process in many areas.
Reports of booth capturing and intimidation of voters were reported from at least three booths in Birbhum district’s Rampurhat, Ketugram in East Burdwan.
Opposition parties alleged that Trinamool supporters attacked women voters on their way to the polling booths. Central forces rushed to the spot and dispersed the crowd. Birbhum clashes took place after miscreants allegedly backed by the Trinamool vandalised houses of villagers and BJP supporters.
Villagers at Law Bagan in Birbhum’s Suri were allegedly offered tea and puffed rice and locked up in a house by Trinamool activists and they were told not to vote, witnesses said, adding that heir electoral photo identity cards were also snatched.
Later, poll officials rescued and took them to the polling stations. Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district President Anubrata Mondal has been “under strict surveillance” following allegations that he was threatening polling officials.
In Uttar Pradesh, technical glitches in EVMs reportedly delayed the balloting process in four polling booths in Kannauj’s Chhibramau area. EVM malfunctioning stopped voting in Hamirpur also.
In Kanpur, 100-year-old Manwati Arya, founder member of the Azad Hind Fauj, also exercised her franchise. She arrived at the polling booth on a wheel-chair. Congress spokesman Virendra Madan claimed in Lucknow that “fake voting” was taking place in these elections.
In Jharkhand, voting is taking place for three Lok Sabha seats in the state’s Maoist-affected areas. There were reports of EVM malfunctioning in several booths. In Maharashtra poll process has been paeceful, while in Mumbai, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Urmila Matondkar, Madhuri Dixit Nene and a stream of other Bollywood celebrities cast their votes and urged others to step out and make their vote count.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the voters to cast their ballot and break polling records of the previous three phases in this fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.