New Delhi: As the first of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections 2019 concluded on Thursday at 5 PM, voters exercised their franchise in 91 constituencies spread across 18 states and two union territories.
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West Bengal recorded the highest polling percentage, at 81 per cent, while Bihar recorded the lowest at 50 per cent voter turnout in phase one of Lok Sabha elections. Two seats in West Bengal — Cooch Behar and Alipurduars — went to poll in the first phase.
The two seats in Jammu and Kashmir — Jammu and Baramulla — recorded an overall percentage of 54.49 as compared to 57.19 in the 2014 general elections. In Baramulla, the turnout was 35.01 per cent as compared to 38.5 per cent last time. In Jammu, 72.16 per cent of voters turned up at the polling stations, as compared to 69.17 per cent last time.
The EC officials said that 70.67 per cent voting was recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 66 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, 64 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, 60 per cent in Telangana, 57.85 per cent in Uttarakhand, 58 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, 69 per cent in Sikkim, 60 per cent in Mizoram, 78 per cent in Nagaland, 78.2 per cent in Manipur and 68 per cent in Assam. Lakshadweep recorded 66 per cent voter turnout and Meghalaya recorded 67.16 polling.
The first-phase Lok Sabha constituencies included all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 17 in Telangana, five in Uttarakhand, two in Meghalaya, two in Arunachal Pradesh and lone seats in Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep. Besides, eight seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, five in Assam, four each in Bihar and Odisha, two each in Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal and one seat in Chhattisgarh were also part of the first phase. These states are having multi-phase voting.
Voting also took place in 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, 32 in Sikkim, 57 in Arunachal Pradesh and 28 seats in Odisha.
The voting process overall went smooth, barring in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, both of which were rocked by instances of violence.
A worker from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and another of the opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) were killed in violence in Anantapur and Chitoor districts of Andhra Pradesh. More than a dozen others including senior TDP leader and Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao were also injured in clashes at various places.
Meanwhile, Naxals-infested Gadchiroli saw two separate IED blasts where people stood in lines to cast their vote, a road accident involving a truck filled with people returning after exercising their franchise and an encounter between security forces and Naxals that left two jawans injured.
But the overall voter turnout after such violence in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli was recorded at 61 per cent.
As many as 15 incidents of damaging EVMs were reported during the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, said Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain. He said that out of the 15 incidents reported during the first phase, six incidents were from Andhra Pradesh alone. Another five incidents of damaging EVMs were reported from Arunachal Pradesh, two from Manipur, and one each from Bihar and West Bengal, Jain said.
Electorally the most crucial state- Uttar Pradesh recorded about 64 per cent voter turnout for eight Lok Sabha constituencies that were voted for on Thursday. Poll officials said till 6 PM, Saharanpur recorded maximum voter turnout at 70.68 per cent, while the least turnout was reported for Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat where it stood at 57.60 per cent.
In addition, Army personnel posted at the world’s highest battlefield, the Siachen Glacier in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir also cast their vote as service voters. “The Indian Army troops deployed in J&K fulfil their duty of being responsible citizens by participating in the democratic process. In a first-of-its-kind, the Election Commission of India provided the facility to the troops deployed in far-flung, remote and inhospitable terrains to download their ballot papers online, vote and forward the ballot papers to their respective Electoral Returning Officers,” a statement read.
Meanwhile, over 828 voters of Bacham in Uttarakhand, a village adopted by Rajya Sabha MP and Congress candidate from Almora parliamentary constituency Pradeep Tamta, boycotted polling.
The village in Kapkot Assembly constituency of Bageswar district boycotted the election, citing neglect in development schemes by the state government.
“We have repeatedly been reminding the state government, asking it to upgrade our junior high school into a high school but the state government did not pay heed to our demands. So we have opted to boycott the polls,” said Anand Ram, Gram Pradhan of Bacham.
Apart from this five other villages in Almora parliamentary constituency boycotted polling complaining road connectivity and communication facilities. Villagers of Kanar, Kandadhar, Goyal, Quirijiniya, Sainpolu, Metili and Gandhinagar boycotted the polls. There are a total of 2,829 voters in these villages, said VK Jogdande, district election officer Pithoragarh.
Votes for all 543 seats would be counted on May 23 after the end of the seven-phase polling on May 19.
With inputs from agencies