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One Killed in Pre-Poll Violence in West Bengal, 59% Turnout Recorded in 6th Phase Polling

One Killed in Pre-Poll Violence in West Bengal, 59% Turnout Recorded in 6th Phase Polling

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NEW DELHI, May 25: Sporadic violence marred the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal where a Trinamool Congress panchayat leader was killed even as an average of 59% turnout was recorded in 58 constituencies in seven states and one union territory on Saturday.

“There were reports of sporadic violence. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought reports from the authorities concerned. There were, however, no reports of any other major untoward incidents,” an official said in Kolkata. The panchayat level leader of the TMC was killed in East Medinipur hours before polling began for the penultimate phase of polling on Saturday.

The highest voter turnout of over 78% by 5PM was also reported from West Bengal. Delhi and Haryana are voting in a single phase. For the seventh and last phase, only 57 seats including that of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi will be left.

A total of 889 candidates are competing in this phase. Voting took place in eight seats each in Bihar and Bengal, seven in Delhi, 10 in Haryana, four in Jharkhand, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, and the final seat in Jammu & Kashmir — Anantnag-Rajouri, where polling was moved from the third to the sixth phase. Odisha will pick representatives for 42 assembly constituencies and six Lok Sabha seats.

By the end of the day, election will be completed in 486 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. Polling will also be completed in Haryana, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. The most riveting contest in the sixth phase was for national capital Delhi, where the BJP swept all seven seats in 2019. This time, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is out to prise a few with its “Jail Ka Jawab Vote Se” campaign. AAP is contesting four seats in the national capital and its ally Congress three.

The phase will be crucial for NDA, which has to keep its score intact to meet its “400-plus” target. In 2019, the BJP alone won 40 of the 58 constituencies going to polls today in the Hindi heartland and the east. Its NDA allies won five more seats.

The parties of the Opposition INDIA bloc — Trinamool Congress, National Conference and Samajwadi Party – had won five seats, the Congress none. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party — which contested the election in alliance with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in 2019 and is now unaligned — and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal also won a few.

The key candidates for this phase are the BJP’s Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Sambalpur,  Manohar Lal Khattar from Karnal, Sambit Patra from Puri, Maneka Gandhi from Sultanpur, late Union minister Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj from the New Delhi constituency, Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi and industrialist Naveen Jindal from Kurukshetra.

On the Opposition bloc are former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag, actor-turned politician Raj Babbar from Gurgaon, Deepender Singh Hooda from Rohtak, and JNU students’ union’s former president Kanhaiya Kumar from North East Delhi.

A voter turnout of 53.73% was recorded till 5 p.m. in the seven seats in Delhi with the highest turnout was recorded in the North East Delhi constituency at 57.97%, while the New Delhi seat had the lowest voting percentage at 50.44%.

President Droupadi Murmu, Union ministers S. Jaishankar and Hardeep Singh Puri, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi minister Atishi, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and outgoing East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir were among those who cast their votes in the National Capital.

(Manas Dasgupta)




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