Over 46 per cent polling was recorded till 3 pm in 13 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, officials said. In Varanasi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term, the voter turnout was 43.71 per cent.
“Till 3.00 pm, the turnout (across 13 seats) was 46.17 per cent,” a state election office spokesperson said.
Violence erupted in Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency, where state Bharatiya Janata Party chief Mahendra Nath Pandey is seeking re-election, when supporters of the saffron party and the Samajwadi Party clashed.
“The incident was reported from Parahupur Sikatiya village in Chandauli. A police team rushed to the spot and the situation was brought under control,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer BDR Tiwari said.
A report from Chandauli said the fingers of Dalits had been inked before they could actually cast their vote in Tara Jivanpur village under Alinagar police station.
“We have taken cognizance of the entire incident and an FIR has been registered. Prima facie, names of workers of a political party have come to the fore. The administration has assured the people that they do not need to fear,” Tiwari said.
Two election officials deputed at different polling booths in Gorakhpur and Bansgaon constituencies died of sudden illness, officials said.
Rajaram, 56, was a polling officer of booth number 381 at Prathmik Vidhyalay Madhopur in Pipraich area in Gorakhpur seat, Assistant Election Officer J N Maurya said. He was rushed to a community health centre where he was declared dead.
In the Bansgaon, Vinod Srivastav, 50, deputed at polling booth number 219, died around midnight due to cardiac arrest. He was an employee with the sugarcane department.
In Gorakhpur, the turnout was 46.91 per cent. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was among the early voters.
“People are fighting this election for nation’s interest and if someone cannot understand this thing, his IQ (intelligence quotient) is questionable,” Adityanath said after casting his ballot. “The entire election revolved around Modi ji. With big achievements of his government during the last five years, the BJP will win the election.”
Union minister Shiv Pratap Shukla, who also exercised his franchise in Gorakhpur, said BJP candidate Ravi Kishan would win by a margin of over three lakh votes and the party would form the government.
According to the data given by the state election office till 3.00 pm, the highest turnout was 52.40 per cent in Maharajganj, while Ballia reported the lowest turnout of 42.56 per cent.
On the death of an election official in Gorakhpur, Tiwari said: “The matter is being probed. If someone is seriously ill, then he is not deployed on poll duty. People submit their requests (for exemption from election duty) and the district administration considers such requests with sensitivity. However, if any untoward incident is to take place, no one can forecast it.”
Asked whether there was any lack of medical facilities for the election officials, the officer said, “There is proper medical arrangement and first -aid kits have been given to all the poll staff.”
Tiwari said reports of EVM malfunctioning were reported from some places, but polling was not hampered. “We also got reports of poll boycott from certain places in Gorakhpur, Mirzapur, Varanasi and Mau. Officials rushed to those places to pacify the voters,” he said.
Polling is underway in Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC).
Union minister Manoj Sinha is seeking re-election from Ghazipur.
The BJP is contesting 11 Lok Sabha seats in this phase, while its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) is contesting from Mirzapur, currently held by Union minister Anupriya Patel, and Robertsganj.
The saffron party has pitted Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan from Gorakhpur against Congress’ Madhusudan Tripathi and Rambhual Nishad of the Samajwadi Party.
Gorakhpur MP Pravin Nishad, who had won the seat on an SP ticket in by-polls last year, has joined the BJP. The party has fielded him from Sant Kabir Nagar seat.
Gorakhpur was represented by Yogi Adityanath in the Lok Sabha from 1998 to 2017, before he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The final phase of Lok Sabha polls in the state will decide the fate of eight SP and five BSP candidates. In all, there are 167 candidates in the fray for 13 seats.
The highest number of 26 candidates in the fray are from Varanasi, while Bansgaon has the least number of four candidates fighting the polls.
The total number of voters who are eligible to cast their votes in this phase is over 2.32 crore. As many as 25,874 polling booths have been set up in 13,979 polling centres, the Election Commission added.