Bengal leads high turnout in Phase II polling

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on April 18, 2019

Voter enthusiasm: A security guard keeps watch as people queue up to cast their votes during the second phase of polling, in Siliguri, West Bengal, on Thursday   -  PTI

BJP sees wave against Mamata government; TN and UP witness over 60% turnout

Very high voting percentages in four States marked the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday. The high turnout in West Bengal was interpreted as a sign of voters’ angst against the ruling Trinamool Congress. In politically-critical Uttar Pradesh, it was seen to reflect a plateauing of enthusiasm.

The second phase recorded about 66 per cent polling till about 6 pm on Thursday in 95 seats across 12 States and Union Territories. The poll percentage was likely to go up as people were still waiting in queues to vote in several places. During the 2014 polls, the turnout for this phase stood at 69.24 per cent.

Over 62 per cent of the votes were cast in the eight constituencies which went to polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Simultaneous voting

Tamil Nadu saw 70.90 per cent turnout. The State witnessed simultaneous voting for 38 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats and for bypolls in 18 Assembly seats which will decide the fate of the AIADMK government in the State. Similarly, polling was held for 14 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, five each in Assam and Odisha, three in Chhattisgarh and two in Jammu and Kashmir. The polls were largely peaceful barring sporadic incidents of violence.

The polling percentage crossed 70 per cent by 5.30 pm in three States and one Union Territory. It was 76.43 per cent in West Bengal, 72.40 per cent in Puducherry, 74.69 per cent in Manipur and 73.32 per cent in Assam. In the three seats of West Bengal — Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Raigunj — the overall vote percentage was around 76.43 per cent, with Jalpaiguri polling up to 82.71 per cent till about 5 pm. The sitting MP and candidate from Raiganj, CPI(M)’s Mohammed Salim, faced an attack on his vehicle while he was going to cast his vote. While high polling percentages are common for West Bengal, the reasons differ from election to election. This time around, some political observers attributed the high poll percentage to the voters’ anger for not having been allowed to participate in the Panchayat elections held in 2018. The ruling TMC had won as many as 34 per cent of the seats uncontested.

The BJP, which is fast acquiring the principal opposition party status in West Bengal, claimed it reflected a rising support for them.

“As many as two crore voters were not allowed to exercise their franchise. People are angry. What you are seeing in Bengal is a tide against the TMC’s repression,” said BJP MP and spokesperson Anil Baluni.

In UP, a change was witnessed in some seats that polled in the second phase from 2014, when the “Modi wave” galvanised voters to come out and vote in large numbers. For instance, in Nagina, the poll percentage had gone up from 53.7 per cent in 2009 to 63.9 per cent in 2014, and in Mathura, from 54.15 per cent to 64.02 per cent. This time around, the polling percentage remained almost similar.

According to the BJP MP from Fatehpur Sikri Babulal Chaudhary, who has not been given the party ticket this time, the voting trends in UP reflect the reality that it is “a normal, and not a wave election”.

For the latest on elections, click: Elections 2019

Published on April 18, 2019

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