Incidents of violence in West Bengal and Odisha that left a Congress worker dead and EVM glitches were reported in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polls on Monday which saw 64 per cent turnout in 72 seats across nine states.
In the heartland states, where the BJP had won 30 out of 32 seats in 2014, 67.73 per cent turnout was recorded in Rajasthan (13 seats), 58.56 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (13 seats) and 67.09 per cent in Madhya Pradesh (6 seats), according to the Election Commission.
West Bengal recorded a high turnout at 76.66 in the eight seats though clashes broke out between supporters of TMC and BJP in Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured.
In Barabani, BJP candidate from Asansol and Union Minister Babul Supriyo’s vehicle was vandalised allegedly by TMC workers outside a polling station while in Dubrajpur area central security forces personnel reportedly opened fire in the air to disperse irate people who attacked them when they were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones.
An FIR was registered against Supriyo for allegedly getting into an argument with polling officials, an election official said. The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP accused each other of intimidating voters in the state, which has seen violence in all previous three phases despite stepped up central forces deployment.
The stakes are high for the BJP which had won 56 of these 72 constituencies in the 2014 polls. About 12.79 crore people were eligible for voting in the fourth phase. With this round, polling has been completed in 374 seats out of 543.
According to a senior police officer, violence was reported from several places in six parliamentary seats in Odisha, where the turnout was 64.05 per cent.
A Congress worker was stabbed to death in Balikuda-Erasama are of Jagatsinghpur seat while he was returning from a polling booth. The victim, Lachman Behera, had recently quit the BJD to join the Congress, the official said.
Clashes between supporters of the ruling BJD and the BJP were reported from Jajpur Kendrapara and Balasore Lok Sabha seats amid allegations poll rigging.
Technical glitches in EVMs delayed polling in 60 booths, but it resumed after the snags were rectified.
During a mock-poll in Madhya Pradesh, electronic voting machines (EVMs) were replaced at 207 polling booths as some glitches were found. EVMs were also replaced at 106 polling booths after the voting began, according to officials.
Polling was peaceful in Rajasthan, with tribal dominated seat of Banswara recording the highest voting percentage at 72.34, followed by Barmer which recorded 72.21 per cent voting, according to state election officials.
Nearly 55.86 per cent voting was recorded in Maharashtra (17 seats), 59.02 per cent Bihar (five seats) and 64.38 per cent Jharkhand (3 seats), according to data provided by the Election Commission.
In Kulgam district of Anantnag constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, 10.5 per cent polling was recorded, amid isolated incidents of stone pelting. This was the second of the three-phased polling in the sensitive seat.
Billionaires and Bollywood stars lined up outside polling stations along with the common folks in Mumbai, where polling was held in six constituencies. Celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, the Khan troika of Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, Deepika Padukone, Sachin Tendulkar along with his wife and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray cast their votes in Mumbai. Actors Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Aamir and his wife Kiran Rao were among the early voters.
In Uttar Pradesh, opposition Samajwadi Party’s alleged that many EVMs malfunctioned and in Kannauj, from where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife and sitting MP Dimple Yadav is contesting, several party workers were prevented from coming out of their homes to vote.
In Kanpur, BJP workers allegedly tried to barge into a polling booth and clashed with the police. A case was registered against BJP leader Suresh Awasthi and six others in this regard, Kanpur District Magistrate Vijay Vishwas Pant said.
Reports were received of EVMs malfunctioning in Bidhauna area in Kannauj following which polling remained suspended for over an hour. Complaints were also reported in Etawah under Auriaya district, with voters claiming they had to wait for hours at polling booths in Tilak Mahavidyalaya, Sahupur, Ajitmal and Dalelnagar to cast their votes.
According to a report from Hardoi, an elderly woman voter complained that the presiding officer at Jamkara booth forcibly pressed the EVM button. The sector magistrate removed the officer and handed him over to the police.
Besides Dimple Yadav, prominent candidates in the fray in this phase are former ministers Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabd) and Sriprakash Jaiswal (Kanpur) of Congress, UP minister Satyadev Pachauri (Kanpur) and Sakshi Maharaj of BJP (Unnao)
In Bihar, voting was delayed due to EVM malfunctioning at three polling stations in Munger, two polling stations in Darbhanga and three polling stations in Begusarai, from where CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar and Union Minister Giriraj Singh (BJP) are contesting, official sources said.
Voting was also held for 41 Assembly seats in Odisha and Chhindwara Assembly by-poll in Madhya Pradesh, where Chief Minister Kamal Nath is contesting.
Election to 542 Lok Sabha seats is being conducted in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Election in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu was cancelled. Results will be declared on May 23.