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Brisk Polling Recorded in Phase II, over 64% by 5 PM

Brisk Polling Recorded in Phase II, over 64% by 5 PM

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 26: With still about an hour to go before the completion of the second phase of polling in 88 constituencies in 1 states and union territories on Friday, a brisk polling was reported from across the country with more than 64 per cent turnout by 5 PM itself amid a furious row between the Congress and the BJP over manifesto and inheritance tax.

For Kerala, which had seen a voter turnout of 77.84 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Rajasthan and Tripura, it is curtain down for the 2024 Lok Sabha polling and the states will now wait for the counting of votes on June 4.

A voter turnout of over 50% was recorded till 3 p.m. in the second phase in 88 seats amid complaints of EVM glitches and bogus voting in some booths in Kerala and West Bengal.

Polling took place in Kerala (for all 20 seats), Karnataka (14 of the 28 seats), Rajasthan (13 seats), Maharashtra (eight seats), Uttar Pradesh (eight seats), Madhya Pradesh (six seats), Assam and Bihar (five seats each), Chhattisgarh (three seats), West Bengal (three seats), Manipur, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir (one seat each). There were 1,202 candidates in the fray including 1,098 male, 102 female and two transgender contestants.

Originally 89 constituencies were scheduled to vote in the second phase but polling in Betul in Madhya Pradesh was rescheduled to May 7 after the death of a candidate from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. The key candidates in the second round included the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, KC Venugopal, Bhupesh Baghel, Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot, BJP’s Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar — up against Congress’s Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram; actors Hema Malini, and Arun Govil from 1980s iconic serial Ramayan, senior BJP leader Tejasvi Surya and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy accused the Election Commission of not ensuring transparency in parliamentary elections in the Bengaluru Rural constituency and alleged that the Congress candidate had distributed gift coupons QR codes to voters. He also claimed that Janata Dal (Secular) and BJP workers were attacked when they tried to prevent distribution of the material.

For both BJP and the Opposition, the most crucial states in this phase were Karnataka and Kerala. In 2019, BJP won 25 of Karnataka’s 28 Lok Sabha seats, but the Congress clinched a win in the last assembly election. The party is hoping to do well amid concerns about delimitation and the disadvantage southern states could face after it.

Further south, the BJP is trying to break into the bipolar politics of Kerala. The party is hoping to open its account in the state, having fielded Union ministers Rajiv Chandrasekhar and V Muraleedharan. In Wayanad, a Congress bastion for over 20 years, it has fielded its state unit president K Surendran against Rahul Gandhi.

For the Opposition, Kerala is a big shining hope. Even though the Left and the Congress are competing against each other in the southern state, victory by either will add to the tally of the Opposition bloc INDIA. Kerala is one of the few states that has so far never sent a BJP member to parliament.

With north, west and northeast India saturated, the BJP is hoping to expand in the south and east in their quest for 370 seats. The party had won 303 seats in 2019, a majority of them from the Hindi heartland and bastions new and old, including Gujarat and the northeast.

The Congress, though, has claimed it would post a much better performance compared to 2019. After the first phase of the election, their claims have got louder, especially in Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Tejashwi Yadav has claimed INDIA will win all five seats in Bihar.

The election is being held amid a bitter face-off between the Congress and the BJP. The row was sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment that the Congress, if voted to power, will redistribute the personal wealth of people among “infiltrators” and won’t even spare the mangalsutras of women. The Congress has questioned if the people had to fear for their wealth and mangalsutras in 55 years of the party’s rule, and accused the BJP of sidestepping issues that matter.

Following is the state-wide report of average turnout till 5 PM with Tripura leading the rest with 77.53 per cent voting and Uttar Pradesh lowest with 52.74 per cent, according to the data released by the Election Commission of India.

Manipur – 76.06%

West Bengal – 71.84%

Chhattisgarh – 72.13%

Assam – 70.66%

Maharashtra – 53.51%

Bihar – 53.03%

Madhya Pradesh – 54.83%

Rajasthan – 59.19%

Kerala – 63.97%

Karnataka – 63.90% and

Jammu and Kashmir – 67.22%

The next and third phase of election is due on May 7. The counting of votes will be held on June 4 – three days after the seventh and last phase of polling on June 1.



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