Lok Sabha elections 2019: Blistering heat fails to dampen voters’ spirit
Despite blistering heat, Jharkhand’s first phase polls, country’s fourth, registered a record 63.83% polling, an improvement of 6.46% over 2014 polls in three ‘Maoist-hit’ parliamentary constituencies namely Chatra, Lohardaga and Palamu where day mercury was recorded over 40 degree Celsius on Monday.
Election officials, however, said this was tentative figure, which might change in the final figure.
Fate of 59 candidates including a union minister Sudarshan Bhagat and two sitting legislators Sukhdeo Bhagat and Manoj Yadav got locked in the EVMs in three constituencies, results of which would be declared on May 23.
“Barring two incidents of EVM tempering and inappropriate behaviour of a voter and some reports of electronic voting machine (EVM) malfunctioning, the overall polling passed off peacefully with no report of untoward incident came up from any part of three constituencies,” said chief electoral officer (CEO) L Khiyangate.
Glitches in EVMs and VVPATs were reported from over hundreds of booths in three constituencies, which delayed polling on an average of 45 minutes in the respective booths, election officials said.
Polling at booth number 91 in Chanho under Mandar assembly segment of Lohardaga area delayed over an hour due to malfunctioning EVM. Umesh Mahto said that he along with his wife, Sangita Devi had come to vote from Karkat village at 7 am. But, they had to wait for three hours before they could exercise their franchise. “Voting started only at 9.30 am. Because of the delay we had to postpone our plan for travelling to Koderma,” Mahto said.
Khiyangate said 123 ballot units, 89 control units and 388 VVPATS were replaced.
Many voters of Madvania village under Garhwa district in Palamu constituency lodged complaint of missing names at booth number 334 and 335. A voter Vinod Prajapati said he was deprived of polling, was his name was missing at booth number 334.
Women and first time voters were seen in large numbers at most booths in Chatra, Lohardaga and Palamau, despite scorching heat. “The blistering heat is a problem not hindrance in way of polling. Although, we are habituated of such hot weather condition,” said Meena Devi, 35, a Mandar voter of Lohardaga constituency. Model booth and all-women booths were huge hit among the voters.
“The voters turnout was encouraging. The voters turnout of people with physical disabilities was 53%. Electoral roll purification, EVM awareness and SVEEP played important role in increasing turnout,” Khiyangate said.
Chatra registered 62.06 percent polling, an improvement of 7.69% percent over 2014 figures. Balloting in Lohardaga was 64.88%, an increase of 6.64 percent over last election figures, Palamu registered 64.35% voters’ turnout, a jump of 4.97% over previous one.
Soon after the polls, BJP claimed that it would retain all three seats in the phase with good margins, while grand alliance exuded confidence to take away the seats from BJP comfortably. Currently, all three seats in the fourth phase are with the BJP.
Barring Chatra, where opposition grand alliance partners, Congress and the RJD, are engaged in a friendly fight, the BJP is pitched in a direct battle with the opposition alliance in Lohardaga and Palamu.
In Lohardaga, a scheduled tribe reserved seat, Sudershan Bhagat, who is representing the seat since 2009, is locked in a direct fight with Lohardaga legislator and former Jharkhand Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat.
The BJP won both Palamu and Chatra seats by handsome margin in 2014. This time, BJP’s VD Ram is locked in a direct fight with RJD’s Ghuran Ram in Palamu. In Chatra, BJP’s Sunil Singh is having a breather as RJD’s Subhash Yadav and Congress’ Manoj Yadav are engaged in friendly fight making the contest triangular.
Lohardaga Congress candidate Sukhdeo Bhagat, who exercised his franchise at fishery office booth in Lohardaga, alleged the ruling BJP government in state and Centre of misuse of government machineries to win elections. Bhagat exuded confidence that grand alliance candidates would win all three seats in the phase.
BJP spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo said, “The polling percentage in the fourth phase has been encouraging. It gives a strong sign that BJP is retaining all three seats with good margin of votes.”