Led by West Bengal, voters in 89 constituencies spread across seven states and two Union Territories braved a scorching April sun to notch up the numbers in the seventh phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday.
At the end of the seventh round, polling concluded in 438 of the total
543 Lok Sabha constituencies, leaving 105 to be decided in the last two phases in May.
The counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected the same day to end the mammoth election process spread over 72 days.
Polling was by and large peaceful though there were few incidents of clashes between supporters of rival parties in Punjab and Telangana besides attempts at booth-capturing in Uttar Pradesh.
The Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh – which will become a separate state by June 2 – voted with new-found zeal and freedom, notching up over 70% polling.
It was also Telangana -– simultaneous assembly elections were held there for 119 seats besides 17 Lok Sabha constituencies – where a young voter stopped Union minister Chiranjeevi from jumping the queue at a polling booth in Hyderabad.
BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi also provided some drama when he posted a 'selfie' holding a lotus -- the party poll symbol – after casting his vote in Ranip in Ahmedabad. The Twitter post drew howls of protest from the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Later, the Gujarat administration, under orders from the Election Commission, filed two FIRs against Modi for violation of the model code of conduct.
Otherwise, it was business as usual with voters forming long queues in the last leg of the April polls to decide the fate of 1,295 candidates including Modi, contesting from Vadodara and Congress president Sonia Gandhi (in Rae Bareli).
Voters in West Bengal – a traditionally high voting state –came up with a strong show 81.35% exercising their franchise in the nine seats where polling was held.
The Election Commission said they have received complaints of rigging in some polling booths in West Bengal, where voting for six Lok Sabha seats was held under tight security.
“A decision on whether a re-poll should take place will be taken on Thursday after examining all records,” said Vinod Zutshi, deputy election commissioner.
Voting took place in the state in the backdrop of a bitter war of words between the BJP and Trinamool, specially on the Saradha ponzi scam.
In Gujarat, where voting was held in all 26 seats, around 62% voters exercised their franchise. In 2009, the polling percentage was a meagre 48.
Vadodara, the parliamentary constituency from where Modi is contesting apart from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, recorded 70% voting, one of the highest in the state. In 2009, the turnout here was just 49%. Gandhinagar, where BJP patriarch LK Advani is a contender, registered 62% voting, compared to 62.30% in Ahmedabad.
Modi was among the early voters in his home state where the BJP is aiming for a clean sweep.
In Bihar, as much as 60% polling was recorded in the seven seats which went to the polls in the fourth phase of elections in the state.
In Punjab, where polling was held in all 13 seats on a single day, over 73% cast their votes amidst minor clashes in at least two places.
Ten persons were injured clashes at Sangatpura in Moga a well as in Putlighar area in Amritsar.
One of the most keenly-watched contests in the state was in Amritsar between BJP leader Arun Jaitley and former Punjab chief minister and Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh.
In Uttar Pradesh, where polling was held in 14 seats, the polling percentage was 57.10%.
The two star constituencies in Uttar Pradesh — Rai Bareli, from where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is contesting, and Lucknow, where BJP president Rajnath Singh is in the fray — recorded 58.17% and 55.22% polling. In all, voting for 15 Lok Sabha seats, including Jhansi, where Uma Bharati is an aspirant, took place on Wednesday.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati -- trying to emerge as a king-maker or, perhaps, even the 'queen' -- was among the early voters in Lucknow.
In Srinagar, 25.62% cast their votes amidst poll boycott in certain pockets. The figure was almost similar to the 2009 figure of 25.5%.
The Srinagar seat features Union minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, father of chief minister Omar Abdullah.
After casting his vote, Farooq Abdullah once again said that "Kashmir will not be part of communal India. A communal India would be biggest tragedy for Kashmir".
The fight in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu was for one seat each. Both seats are with the BJP in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
Nearly 85% of the electors in Dadra and Nagar Haveli cast their votes while in Daman and Diu the polling percentage was 76.
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Lok Sabha polls phase five: Key candidates
(With inputs from agencies)
Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Wednesday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candidates there:
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