UP records lowest turnout in penultimate phase
About 80.16% of the electorate turned up to vote in West Bengal —the highest in this phase — even as spates of violent incidents were reported, some even before polling began.Updated: May 13, 2019 01:32 IST
Uttar Pradesh, where 14 Lok Sabha seats were at stake, recorded just 54.12% polling on Sunday — the lowest among the seven states and union territories that went to polls in the penultimate sixth round of the seven phase national election, according to the Election Commission of India (EC). The total national turnout was 62.12% on Sunday.
About 80.16% of the electorate turned up to vote in West Bengal —the highest in this phase — even as spates of violent incidents were reported, some even before polling began. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Ghatkal, Bharati Ghosh, alleged she was attacked twice by Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters on Sunday when the former Indian Police Service officer tried to visit polling stations in the Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency when polling was underway there.
Violence in Bengal started late on Saturday when one BJP worker was killed and two shot at in separate incidents even under heavy presence of para military forces in the state.
In Bihar, the BJP alleged that its Lok Sabha candidate from West Champaran Sanjay Jaiswal was attacked by unidentified people at polling booth number 162. According to reports, Jaiswal suffered from some serious injuries.
At 57.58% turnout, Delhi recorded a low voter turnout — standing only next to Bihar (59.29%), according to numbers put out by EC. Haryana recorded 65.07%, Madhya Pradesh 61.89%, Jharkhand 64.50%.
Elections are being held for 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, all 10 in Haryana, eight seats each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, and four in Jharkhand, in addition to seven seats in Delhi. Over 100 million voters are expected to have cast their ballot on Sunday.
There were 979 candidates in the fray in this phase.
Prominent among those contesting were former chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav (from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh) and Sheila Dikshit (North-East Delhi), Union minister Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur in UP), Digvijaya Singh (Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh) and Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Sonepat in Haryana).
Former Union minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) veteran Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was in the fray from Vaishali in Bihar, while Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia was contesting from Guna in Madhya Pradesh.
Among those who voted in Delhi were President Ram Nath Kovind, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Union minister Sushma Swaraj, BJP leader Manoj Tiwari, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, and Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia.
In the hotly contested 2019 elections, all eyes were on the national capital. The initial enthusiasm among voters of Delhi slightly dwindled with the increasing temperature and blazing sun, while leaders cutting across party lines appealed to the voters to exercise their right to franchise.
As polling began at 7am, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged young voters to vote in record numbers. “Yet another phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is here! Urging all those whose constituencies are polling in today’s sixth phase to go out and vote,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
Long queues were seen outside booths in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal as people tried to beat the mid-May heat to exercise their franchise. VVPAT glitches were reported from a few booths in West Bengal and Delhi.
In Uttar Pradesh, the battlefield moved eastward, with constituencies such as Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Allahabad, Ambedkarnagar, Azamgarh, and Jaunpur in Sunday’s election. The BJP had won all but Azamgarh (Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav won then) in 2014. This time, Mulayam’s son and party chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from Azamgarh.
The BJP faces a tough challenge now that the SP has forged an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It will be a triangular contest between the BJP, the SP-BSP alliance, and Congress in some seats.
Haryana is witnessing a multi-cornered contest on most of the seats. The first time player in the Lok Sabha election, Raj Kumar Saini-led Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) in alliance with the BSP and Ajay Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), has added a new dimension to the ballot of ballots in the state.
The ruling BJP had won seven of the total 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) won three and the Congress won two seats.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Gwalior-Chambal region and parts of the Bundelkhand and central regions voted on Sunday. The eight constituencies that went to polls include four in the Gwalior-Chambal region — Gwalior, Guna, Morena and Bhind (a seat reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Caste community) — and three in central MP, including Bhopal, Vidisha and Rajgarh.
In Bhopal, Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh is locked in a battle with BJP candidate and 2008 Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP won all the seats, except Guna which was claimed by Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia. The saffron party had won 27 of the 29 seats in the state. However, the December assembly elections put the Congress back in power after a gap of 15 years.
Stakes are high for the BJP in Bihar, as out of the eight seats going to polls in the sixth phase, the BJP had won seven while its alliance partner, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), bagged one. Bihar has already voted for 24 seats out of 40 in the previous five phases.
All the eight constituencies that went to polls in West Bengal fall in the western part of the state with the most politically significant fight in Medinipur, where BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh was pitted against seven-time MLA and former Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Manas Bhunia.
In Jharkhand, the BJP repeated three sitting MPs from their respective seats — Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum — and gave the Giridih seat to its regional ally, All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU). The saffron party had won all four seats in the previous general elections.
The seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha election will take place on May 19 and counting of votes will be held on May 23.
First Published: May 13, 2019 01:32 IST