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61% Turnout Estimated in the Final Phase of Polling

61% Turnout Estimated in the Final Phase of Polling

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 1: An estimated 61% of the eligible voters turned out to cast their votes on the seventh and final phase of polling for the 18th Lok Sabha on Saturday with some incidents of violence between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress supporters reported from West Bengal with some complaints of EVM glitches and rigging at some booths lodged.

In the last phase, polling was held in seven States and the Union Territory of Chandigarh for 57 constituencies, including Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third consecutive term in the Lok Sabha.

Voting was held amid a severe heatwave in all 13 seats of Punjab and four of Himachal Pradesh, 13 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal, eight in Bihar, six in Odisha and three in Jharkhand, besides Chandigarh. Polling for the remaining 42 Assembly Constituencies in Odisha and bypolls to six Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh were also held simultaneously.

Saturday’s voting marked the end of the marathon polling process that began on April 19. The Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also went to polls. The BJP-led NDA is seeking a rare consecutive third term in office. The Opposition INDIA bloc is trying to upset the NDA applecart by putting up a joint fight in some States.

The counting of votes will be taken up on June 4. In Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the counting for the Assembly polls will be held on June 2.

A voter turnout of nearly 67.95% was recorded in Jharkhand. Uttar Pradesh logged a polling percentage of 54, West Bengal 69.89, Bihar 48.86 and Himachal Pradesh 66.56. Punjab recorded a voter turnout of 55.20% till 5 p.m. while Chandigarh registered a voting percentage of 62.80. Odisha recorded around 62.46% voting.

The turnout in the first six phases of the general election was 66.14%, 66.71%, 65.68%, 69.16%, 62.2% and 63.36% respectively. The poll panel had called upon voters to turn out in greater numbers and vote with responsibility and pride.

In Bengal’s Sandeshkhali, clashes broke out between TMC and BJP supporters over allegations of electoral malpractices. BJP candidate Rekha Patra alleged that ‘TMC goons’ stopped voters from casting their votes. The TMC made counter allegations and accused Ms Patra and ‘BJP goons’ of trying to vitiate the poll atmosphere.

As both the groups came to blows on Basanti Express highway, police resorted to baton charge and tear gas shelling to disperse the mob. Basirhat SP Hossain Mehedi Rahaman said three persons were injured during the clash between TMC and BJP supporters at Bayramari in Sandeshkhali, adding that one person was arrested in this connection.

TMC and BJP workers also clashed in some parts of Jadavpur and Diamond Harbour constituencies. Clashes broke out between supporters of the TMC, Indian Secular Front (ISF) and BJP in Jadavpur as the parties alleged that their polling agents were stopped from entering booths.

A confrontation erupted in Bhangar within the Jadavpur constituency between TMC and ISF supporters, with allegations of crude bombs being hurled from both sides. Police intervention ensued, triggering protests as both factions accused each other. To quell the situation, security personnel resorted to a lathicharge and seized several crude bombs.




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