Lok Sabha elections 2019: Voters turn out in large numbers in 1st phase

PTI New Delhi | Updated on April 11, 2019

Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the first phase of general election in Muzaffarnagar, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India, April 11, 2019.   -  REUTERS

Poll-related violence saw death of two persons in Andhra Pradesh

The world’s largest democratic exercise began on Thursday with crores of Indians coming out to vote to elect 91 parliamentarians in the first phase of over-a-month-long Lok Sabha polls for which the Modi government has made nationalism its core pitch to retain power amid a fragmented challenge from Congress and a number of regional players.

Election officials said voter turnout was high at most places, while poll-related violence saw death of two persons in Andhra Pradesh and complaints poured in from various states about glitches in electronic voting machines and of names missing from the voter lists.

The 91 Lok Sabha constituencies in the first phase, spread across 18 states and two union territories, have more than 14 crore voters -- about one-sixth of nearly 90 crore total electorate in India. Votes for all 543 seats would be counted on May 23 after end of the seven-phase polling on May 19.

An estimated 1.5 crore young voters in the age group of 18-19 years would vote for the first time across the seven phases.

In the last general elections in 2014, more than 55 crore Indians had voted (66.3 per cent) with the BJP emerging victorious with little over 30 per cent votes, giving a five-year mandate to a government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the first phase, the BJP is looking to defend 32 seats, including those being fought by senior party leader Nitin Gadkari and five other union ministers, and also expand its tally in states dominated by regional players last time.

The main opposition party Congress is hoping to defend seven seats it won in 2014, besides eyeing gains in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Voting also took place in 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, 32 in Sikkim, 57 in Arunachal Pradesh and 28 seats in Odisha.

The first-phase Lok Sabha constituencies include all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 17 in Telangana, five in Uttarakhand, two in Meghalaya, two in Arunachal Pradesh and lone seats in Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep.

Besides, eight seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, five in Assam, four each in Bihar and Odisha, two each in Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal and one seat in Chhattisgarh are also part of the first-phase. These states are having multi-phase voting.

Election officials put the voting percentage till early afternoon at 40-50 per cent in most states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term in power, focusing his election campaign on national security and flagship schemes. The Congress has promised to roll out a minimum income scheme, named ‘Nyay’, to provide a minimum basic income of Rs 72,000 a year for three years to the poorest strata.

Congress under Rahul Gandhi has been relentlessly targeting the Modi government and has also accused it of corruption. Gandhi said Thursday in Rae Bareli after his mother Sonia Gandhi filed nomination papers that the election results would prove that Modi is “not invincible“.

The prime minister, at an election rally in Bihar, asserting that the opposition parties were scared that if he comes to power again, their “shops” of corruption and dynasty politics will shut down.

In Andhra Pradesh, anti-incumbency, caste and corruption are the major factors that could determine the outcome of the elections to Lok Sabha and the state assembly. The state has 3.93 crore voters and this is the first general election there after bifurcation of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in 2014. There are 2,118 candidates for the state polls and 319 for the Lok Sabha elections there.

Two political workers -- one belonging to ruling TDP and another from main opposition YSR Congress -- were killed in an election-related clash, while technical problems in EVMs hampered the poll process in some booths in the state.

TDP chief and CM N Chandrababu Naidu is seeking election from Kuppam, while his son Nara Lokesh is making his electoral debut from Mangalagiri. YSR Congress chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, an aspirant for the CM’s post, is fighting from his family’s pocketborough Pulivendula.

In 2014, the TDP won 101, YSRC 68 and BJP four. In Lok Sabha polls, the TDP had bagged 15, YSRC eight and BJP two.

In Telangana, the ruling TRS is hoping for an encore in Lok Sabha polls after sweeping the December assembly elections, while both Congress and BJP are looking to increase their respective tallies. There are 443 candidates in the fray for 17 Lok Sabha seats from the state.

In Uttar Pradesh, BJP is facing the newly-formed SP-BSP-RLD alliance. In Muzaffarnagar, RLD chief Ajit Singh will take on BJP’s Sanjeev Balyan, while his son Jayant Chaudhary is pitted against Union minister Satyapal Singh in Baghpat.

In Maharashtra, Union Minister Gadkari faces Congress’s Nana Patole, a former BJP MP in Nagpur, while his party colleague Hansaraj Ahir is seeking a fourth term from Chandrapur.

Naxals triggered an IED blast near a polling booth in the state’s Gadchroli district while voting was underway. There were no casualties, officials said.

In Bihar, LJP leader Chirag Paswan is contesting from Jamui against Bhudeo Chaudhary of RLSP.

In the North East, Union Minister Rijiju is seeking re-election from Arunachal West. In Assam, former CM Tarun Gogoi’s son Gaurav is in the fray in Kaliabor.

In Chhattisgarh’s Bastar, security has been tightened following a naxal attack in the constituency’s Dantewada area on Tuesday. A BJP leader and four security personnel were killed.

Odisha votes

Around 15 per cent voting was recorded in the first three hours as polling was underway in four Lok Sabha seats and 28 assembly constituencies in the first phase of polls in Odisha.

Prominent among the early voters were former Union minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu who is the BJD candidate from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat and BJP Odisha unit president Basant Panda, who is in the fray for Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat.

Over 60 lakh voters, including more than 30 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of polls.

Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases. Polling for next three phases will be held on April 18, 23 and 29.

There are 21 Lok Sabha and in the state.

Read in detail: Lok Sabha elections 2019: 15 per cent cast their vote during Phase 1 in Odisha

Over 60 % polling till 5 pm in Telangana

Telangana recorded 60.57 per cent voting till fivepm across 17 Lok Sabha constituencies of the State where former Union minister Renuka Chowdhury and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi are among prominent candidates in the fray.

Medakrecorded highest number of voter turnout with 68.60 per cent while Secunderabad from where senior BJP leader Kishan Reddy registered just 39.20 per cent polling till five pm.

Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumarhad earlier said those who stand in queue at 5 pm will also be allowed to vote.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, TRS Working President KT Rama Rao, K Kavitha and Asaduddin Owaisi and film actors Chiranjeevi, Ram Charan, Allu Arjun, junior NTR and ’Baahubali’ director SS Rajamouli were among the prominent people who cast their vote in their respective constituencies.

KCR, along with his wife cast his vote in Chintamadaka village in Siddipet district.

“Polling process is going on peacefully across Telangana,” Rajat Kumar said.

A polling booth in Teeleru Village in Narayanpet district where ten women labourers were buried alive when loose soil and boulders fell on them Wednesday, wore a deserted look, according to reports.

A senior Narayanpet district official told PTI that there was lukewarm response for polling in Teeleru.

Key candidates in the fray include Telangana Rashtra Samiti President and Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha, Renuka Chowdhury, State Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy, Congress working president Revanth Reddy and Asaduddin Owaisi.

Telangana BJP chief spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao alleged that the Election Commission has fallen short of expectations in conduct of elections in Telangana.

“In Telangana, there are several instances of EVMs not working,” he claimed.

Teams deployed to fix the EVMs when they were not functional should have been technically more efficient, Rao said, adding, at many places, even though there were three EVMs in a booth, only one or two were functioning.

“They should have been technically more prepared,” he said.

Also see: Clashes between TDP, YSR Congress workers in Andhra Pradesh

Nearly 60 per cent polling in Assam till 3 pm

An estimated 59.5 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 3 pm in five parliamentary constituencies in Assam on Thursday, state Chief Electoral Officer Mukesh Sahu said.

Malfunctioning of EVMs have been reported from some booths in the constituencies and have been replaced but the exact number can be ascertained only after the polling personnel returned with the machines, Sahu told PTI.

Tezpur, Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituencies have an electorate of 76,03,458, including 38,65,334 male, 37,37,970 female and 154 of the third gender, who will decide the fate of 41 candidates.

Tezpur has recorded the highest of 63.01 percentage followed by Jorhat with 62 per cent and Kaliabor with 60 per cent while Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur recorded 59.9 and 53 per cent respectively.

There was all-round enthusiasm among all sections of voters in all the five constituencies to exercise their franchise since early morning.

First time voters, women, people with disabilities and elderly citizens came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise and long queues were seen before polling booths through the day.

Most of the 225 model polling stations have been decorated with balloons and flowers, while the first voter was offered the traditional Assamese ‘gamusa’

Read more : Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Over 10 per cent cast their vote during Phase 1 in Assam

Voting in Lakshadweep

Polling in Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency, where six candidates are in the fray, began Thursday morning.

There are 49 polling booths in the Island territory comprising 27 islands, of which only 10 are inhabited. Around 850 security personnel have been deployed to ensure a smooth polling which began at 7 am.

The number of electorate in the country’s smallest constituency is 54,266, with 26,791 women. While Anthroth island has the highest number of voters (10,212), there are only 231 voters in Bithra island. A close fight is expected between sitting NCP MP P P Mohammed Faisal and former Congress MP Hamdullah Sayeed, son of former Union minister late P M Sayeed.

The CPI(M), CPI, BJP and JD(U) are among the parties which have fielded their candidates in the elections.

Maharashtra: 46 per cent polling till 3 pm

Maharashtra registered 46.13 per cent voting till 3 pm in seven constituencies where polling was underway in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections.

According to the state’s chief electoral officer, the Naxal-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha seat witnessed 57 per cent voting in eight hours since the commencement of polling at 7 am, while 49.05 per cent electorate cast their votes in Bhandara-Gondiya.

Besides, Chandrapur recorded 46.3 per cent polling till 3 pm, followed by Ramtek (SC)- 44.5 per cent, Wardha - 43.9 per cent, Yavatmal-Washim - 43.35 per cent and Nagpur - 41.25 per cent.

All these constituencies are located in the state’s Vidarbha region.

The prominent candidates in these constituencies include Union ministers and senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, who is contesting from Nagpur, and Hansraj Ahir, who is the nominee from Chandrapur seat.

Bihar records over 41 per cent voting till 3 pm

Around 41.73 per cent votes were cast by 3 pm in the four Lok Sabha seats in Bihar where polling is on in the first phase on Thursday.

As per the poll percentage figure released by the Bihar chief electoral officer, Gaya recorded the highest turnout at 44 per cent, followed by Nawada at 43 per cent, Jamui at 41.34 per cent and Aurangabad at 38.50 per cent.

The voting percentage for Nawada assembly bypoll, which was also held during the day was 43 per cent.

There were few incidents of poll boycott at Jamui and Nawada constituencies and police recovered three bombs, including a cane bomb from a polling station in Aurangabad.

Read more: Lok Sabha elections 2019 - Bihar latest polling trends

29 per cent voter turn out recorded in Mizoram till 1 pm

An average 29.8 per cent votes have been polled for election to the lone Mizoram Lok Sabha seat and bypoll to the Aizawl West-I assembly seat till 1 pm, an election official said.

The fate of six candidates for the Lok Sabha seat would be decided by an electorate of 7,78,777. Three nominees are in the fray in the Assembly bypoll.

The state witnessed the average turnout of 29.8 per cent in the first six hours of polling, state chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashish Kundra said.

Polling will continue till 5 pm.

Sikkim votes

An estimated 69 per cent of the voters in Sikkim have exercised their franchise till 5 pm on Thursday to elect a 32-member state Legislative Assembly as well as the lone Lok Sabha member from the state, an official said.

The polling percentage will go up as large number of voters who have queued up at polling stations till 5 pm would be allowed to vote, the CEO said.

There was no report of any violence from anywhere in the state during the polling of the state Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat which was held simultaneously, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ravindra Telang told PTI.

Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling exercised his franchise at Namchi New Secondary School in South Sikkim’s Namchi-Singhiyhang assembly seat.

A total of 4,32,306 voters comprising 2,20,305 males and 2,12,001 females were eligible to exercise their franchise on Thursday.

A total of 150 candidates are in fray for the 32 assembly seats, while 11 candidates are contesting for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state.

Chamling, who is seeking an eighth successive term as an MLA, is contesting from two assembly seats - Poklok-Kamrang and Namchi-Singhithang.

Former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, the working president of the Hamro Sikkim party (HSP) has entered into fray from two assembly seats as well, including the Gangtok assembly constituency, reserved for the indigenous Bhutia-Lepcha communities.


Also read: What these elections mean for the economy

Polling in Nagaland underway

Polling is in progress for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland and by-election to Aonglenden assembly constituency.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Nagaland, Abhijit Sinha, said 21 per cent turn out has been recorded for the Lok Sabha poll and 19 per cent for Aonglenden bypoll till 9 am.

Polling started at 7am and will end at 4pm in both the seats.

Altogether 12,13,777 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect their representaives from among five nominees in the lone Lok Sabha seat.

50 per cent electorate cast their vote till 3 pm in UP

Brisk polling was recorded in eight parliamentary constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls Thursday, with an estimated 50 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm, an official said.

Despite hot weather conditions, voters turned out in large numbers and polling was going on peacefully, an official of the state election department said here.

Three Union ministers -- V K Singh (Ghaziabad), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat) and Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddha Nagar) -- are in the fray in the first leg of the seven-phase polls.

According to the Election Commission, the average voters turnout till 3 pm was 50.86 per cent. Saharanpur recorded 54.18 per cent polling, Kairana 52.40 per cent, Muzaffarnagar 50.60 per cent, Bijnor 50.80 per cent, Meerut 51 per cent, Baghpat 51.20 per cent, Ghaziabad 47 per cent and Gautam Buddh Nagar 49.72 per cent.

The BJP had won all the eight seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but lost Kairana seat in a by-poll held later.

Joint Chief Electoral Officer Ramesh Chandra Rai said there was no report of any impersonation, bogus voting, obstruction to polling or violence from anywhere in these constituencies,

In Muzaffarnagar, BJP MP Sanjeev Balyan stoked a controversy by demanding that male officials check identity of burqa-clad women at poll stations where women security personnel have not been posted.

“If someone comes in a burqa, whether the same person is coming four or five times, how will you check,” Balyan told reporters in Muzaffarnagar.

“Without checking the face, how can you allow anyone to cast vote,” he asked.

Reacting to it, UP Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwarlu told PTI that women officials have been deployed to ascertain identity of women voters.

“There is already a mechanism in place. District magistrates have deployed women officials to ascertain the identity of female voters. Wherever there are burqa-clad voters, women poll officials are posted to ascertain their identity,” he said.

46.59% electorate cast their vote in Uttarakhand till 3 pm

Polling in Uttarakhand’s five Lok Sabha seats saw 46.59 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm, an official said. The fate of 52 candidates will be decided by over 78 lakh voters of the state, where all the five seats -- Tehri, Pauri, Haridwar, Almora and Nainital -- are being held by the BJP.

Polling began at 7 am and there was 46.59 per cent polling in Uttarakhand by 3 pm, Chief Electoral Officer Saujanya said. The BJP is locked in straight contests with the Congress on all the seats.

High-profile candidates in the fray are ex-chief minister Harish Rawat, who takes on state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt in Nainital; ex-CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who faces Congress’s Ambrish Kumar in Haridwar; BJP national secretary Tirath Singh Rawat is up against B C Khanduri’s son Manish Khanduri in Pauri; and sitting MPs Ajay Tamta (Lok Sabha) and Pradeep Tamta (Rajya Sabha) in Almora.

Over 50% polling till 3 pm in Arunachal Pradesh

An estimated 50.79 per cent voters in Arunachal Pradesh exercised their franchise till 3 pm Thursday for the state Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats, an election official said.

Three persons were seriously injured at Pipsorang circle under Tali assembly constituency in Kurung Kumey district in a clash between supporters of two rival political parties during the polling, DGP S B K Singh said.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer Kangki Darang informed that according to reports available from the respective district election officers (DEOs) over 50 per cent voting was recorded in the state till 3 PM.

Darang, however, informed that the polling percentage would increase till 5 PM when polling would end.

The injured have been immediately evacuated by a chopper requisitioned by the district administration, the DGP added.

During the morning hours, reports of malfunctioning of EVMs in various districts came but the respective election authorities replaced the machines for which polling was not affected, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Liken Koyu informed.

A total of 45 companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) comprising ITBP, CRPF, IRBn and SSB along with over seven thousand state civil police personnel have been deployed, Inspector General of Police, Sunil Garg informed.

The IGP said that maximum security personnel have been deployed in insurgency-hit Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of the state.

Over 18 per cent vote in West Bengal during first few hours

Around 18.12 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the first few hours of polling in two parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal on Thursday, an election official said.

Polling began at 7 am in Cooch Behar and Alipurduar, where a total of 34,51,883 electorate will decide the fate of 18 candidates.

Around 50 per cent of the polling stations in the two Lok Sabha constituencies are under the watch of paramilitary personnel, besides an adequate number of state forces, to ensure a free and fair elections.

Left Party constituent Forward Bloc is contesting from Cooch Behar and RSP in Alipurduar.

Cooch Behar district has the distinction of housing 51 enclaves, which became a part of India in 2015 after the exchange with Bangladesh. The enclaves have 15,000 dwellers.

Read: Lok Sabha elections 2019: Modi defends EC as BJP targets electoral gains in North Bengal

Alipurduar is a reserved constituency for Scheduled Tribes, as it has a large population of adivasis who migrated to the region during the British era to work in tea gardens.

J&K records over 35% turnout till 1 pm

Jammu and Kashmir has recorded over 35 per cent turnout till 1 pm in Jammu and Baramulla constituencies, where voting in underway in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections, even as there were protests over defective EVMs in some areas, officials said. The two constituencies house over 33 lakh electorate.

The National Conference and the PDP alleged that uniformed personnel “coerced” people to vote for the BJP and that EVMs malfunctioned in some places with Congress button not working in Jammu’s Poonch area.

While the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency recorded 44.65 per cent turnout, Baramula registered 22.3 per cent till 1 pm, the officials said. Amid tight security, polling began at 7 am in the Jammu constituency and has been peaceful so far with voters in Samba, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch turning out early morning to exercise their franchise, the officials said.

While Jammu district recorded 45.9 per cent polling, Samba registered highest 52.1 per cent, followed by Rajouri district with 44.8 per cent and Poonch 35.8 per cent till 1 pm, they said.

In the Baramulla seat, Kupwara district registered highest turnout of 30.8 per cent, followed by Bandipora (20.9), Baramulla (15.1) till 1 pm, while Kashmir migrants polled 19.36 per cent for Baramulla seat, they said.

Congress candidate from Jammu Raman Bhalla, who cast his vote in Jammu, alleged large scale EVM malfunction in Poonch and Mendhar belt of the constituency. He said that people have protested over the issue.

Former minister and senior Congress leader Shabir Khan told reporters in Rajouri that the defective EVMs have been sent to remote and rural areas of Rajouri and Poonch and people held protests. But nothing has been done to repair the machines, he alleged.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted a video showing voters raising anti-BJP slogans after they were allegedly “roughed up” by BSF jawans for not voting for the saffron party.

“A voter at polling booth in Jammu was manhandled by the BSF because he refused to cast his vote for BJP. Using armed forces at polling stations to coerce people to vote for the BJP shows their desperation & hunger to usurp power by hook or crook,” she said in her tweet.

In Rajouri and Poonch border district, people along the Line of Control came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise. Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who cast his vote in Gandhinagar, said there is an enthusiasm among the electorate.

The Jammu parliamentary constituency has the highest number of 24 candidates among all the seats. The constituency, spread over four districts of Jammu, Samba, Poonch and Rajouri and covering 20 assembly segments, was won by BJP’s Jugal Kishore in the 2014 general elections. He defeated veteran Congress leader and two-time MP Madan Lal Sharma by a margin of over 2.57 lakh votes.

Kishore is facing a tough contest this time as the National Conference is extending support to Congress candidate and former minister Raman Bhalla, while the PDP has decided not to field any candidate from the Jammu region to ensure that the secular votes are not divided.

The Jammu parliamentary seat has the highest number of 20,05,730 lakh voters, including 9,64,834 women and 20 transgenders, officials said, adding 2,740 polling stations, including dozens near the LoC and the International Border (IB), have been set up for the polling.


For more stories on the Lok Sabha elections click here : Elections 2019

Published on April 11, 2019

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