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LS Polls: Moderate polling recorded in initial hours, EVM glitches in Bihar, Kerala

News Agencies | Updated on: 23 April 2019, 10:46 IST

Amid complaints of EVM glitches, moderate polling was Tuesday recorded in the first two hours of voting in 116 Lok Sabha seats, including all constituencies of Gujarat and Kerala, in which BJP president Amit Shah, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and several Union ministers are in the fray.

As the polling began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote at a booth in Ahmedabad and said the "voter ID" (identity card) was much more powerful than the "IED" (improvised explosive device) of terrorists.

BJP President Amit Shah, who is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, also cast his vote at a polling booth in Ahmedabad. Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting is underway in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.

Voting in Tripura East constituency, which was earlier scheduled for April 18, is also being held, as also in a part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir, where election is being held in three phases.

Voting is also being held in some Assembly constituencies in Odisha, Gujarat and Goa. In Jammu and Kashmir, voting began on a dull note in Anantnag district of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, where polling will be held in three phases.

Residents in most parts of the district in restive south Kashmir are yet to venture out, officials said. The Election Commission has curtailed the polling duration for Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency by two hours following a request from the state police to this effect. The voting will be held in south Kashmir areas from 7 am to 4 pm.

There are 18 candidates in the fray for Anantnag constituency including PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti. The Congress has fielded state president Ghulam Ahmad Mir while former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi is contesting on NC ticket.

The other prominent candidate in the fray is former MLC Sofi Yousuf of BJP. Kerala witnessed enthusiastic voters queuing up at several booths even before 7 am in all 20 Lok Sabha constituencies. However, there were complaints of technical glitches in electronic voting machines in some polling booths.

Many polling stations witnessed heavy rush and long queues in the initial hours. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Union minister, Alphons Kannamthanam are key contenders in the state. Women, senior citizens and first-time electors turned up in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

The three major fronts-- ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, Opposition Congress headed UDF and the BJP-NDA have nominated 6 women candidates. Wayanad constituency from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting, besides his pocket borough Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, has the maximum number of candidates-- 20 and the lowest are in Alathur in Palakkad district (6).

In Karnataka, polling began at 7 am in 28,022 polling stations that are mostly in the northern belt of the state, covering the entire Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka regions, a couple of central districts and coastal Uttara Kannada. Queues were seen at polling booths as the voting began, with many arriving to vote early in the day to avoid the summer heat.

The contest is between the ruling Congress-JDS combine and the BJP in 14 of the 28 LS seats in Karnataka. In Chhattisgarh, over 12 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the initial two-and-a-half hours of polling in seven Lok Sabha constituencies.

Voting for the third phase of Lok Sabha polls in the state began in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Korba, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Surguja (ST) and Raigarh (ST) amid tight security at 7 am, an election official said. In Bihar, an estimated 9.35 per cent of over 89 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling in five LS seats.

Voting was hampered at two polling stations in Khagaria and three booths in Jhanjharpur due to EVM malfunctioning, official sources said. Bracing a sudden rise in mercury, an estimated 12 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise during the first two hours of voting in Uttar Pradesh.

Polling was underway in 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state to decide the electoral fate of four members of SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's clan, besides that of senior party leader Azam Khan and film actor and BJP candidate Jaya Prada. The seats are spread over Rohilkhand region of the state where the BJP had won seven out of 10 seats in 2014.

The third phase is crucial as it will decide the fate of the heads of the BJP and Congress -- Shah, who replaced L K Advani as party nominee from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, and Gandhi, who is contesting from Wayanad in Kerala besides his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh.

About 18.56 crore voters are eligible for voting in the third phase of the elections, for which 2.10 lakh polling booths/stations have been set up. The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as they bagged 66 seats out of these 116 spread across 14 states and Union Territories in 2014 general election, while the Congress and its alliance partners won 27, and the rest went to other opposition parties and Independents.


First published: 23 April 2019, 10:41 IST