63.5% turnout in sixth phase
Incidents of violence reported from West Bengal and Jharkhand
An overall tentative turnout of 63.5% was reported from the 59 constituencies in six States and the Union Territory of Delhi on Sunday in the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha election. Incidents of violence were reported from West Bengal and Jharkhand. The turnout in 2014 stood at 63.67%.
The highest participation of 80.35% again was reported from the eight seats in West Bengal which, however, was lower than the 84.95% in the previous election.
BJP candidate injured
The State also witnessed several incidents of violence. In Keshpur under the Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency, there were reports of an attack on the BJP candidate and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh when she tried to enter a polling booth. Ms. Ghosh’s convoy was targeted when miscreants threw stones and bombs after she tried to enter another polling booth in Keshpur.
Ms. Ghosh, once seen as close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and who is contesting against Dipak Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), was heckled by ruling party supporters on several occasions.
Following the attacks, Central Industrial Security Force personnel accompanying her resorted to lathi-charge and firing. Ms. Ghosh was forced to take shelter in a temple near the Keshpur police station. One person sustained injuries in the incident.
The adjoining Medinipur constituency also reported violence. At Belda, four Trinamool supporters sustained injuries in clashes with BJP workers.
At a polling booth in Bishnupur, central forces opened fire after a scuffle in the queue of voters.
A delegation of BJP leaders, including Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, met officials at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer and alleged “booth capturing and rigging” at certain booths.
Neighbouring Jharkhand reported a marginal dip in the turnout with 64.5% compared with 65.53% in 2014. There was a bomb explosion in Chaibasa but no casualties were reported. A clash between two communities was reported in Jamshedpur, while the vehicle of a candidate from Giridih was pelted with stones by some locals.
Surge in M.P.
Madhya Pradesh, where senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is facing the BJP’s Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal, an overall polling of 64.77% was recorded as against 56.81% in 2014. In Bihar too, where a poll official was killed in accidental firing by a home guard, the figure improved from 57.25% to 59.3%.
Voter participation in Haryana dropped from 71.86% in the previous election to 68.34%. The same trend was noticed in Delhi, which recorded a tentative figure of 59.8% compared with 65.1% in 2014.
Of the seven seats in Delhi, Chandni Chowk and North East Delhi recorded over 62% turnout, while New Delhi, known for its VVIP voters, saw a turnout of 56.1%. Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh expressed disappointment, saying the turnout did not meet the expectations, given the awareness campaigns.
In the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, the turnout was close 2014’s figure of 54.74%.