Violence mars 5th phase of polls; just 3% voting in Anantnag

New Delhi | Updated on May 06, 2019 Published on May 06, 2019

Indelible mark A group of women at Hajipur in Bihar’s Vaishali district after casting their votes on Monday

62.5% polling in 51 LS seats across seven States as against 61.7% recorded in 2014

Violence and heavy polling in West Bengal contrasted sharply with a shockingly low voter turnout of just 3 per cent in the Anantnag seat in Jammu and Kashmir as the fifth phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections recorded an overall 62.56 per cent voting on Monday. The provisional voting percentage this time was slightly higher than the 61.75 per cent in 2014 in the 51 Lok Sabha seats across seven States.

Elsewhere in the Hindi heartland — Uttar Pradesh (14 seats), Bihar (five seats), Madhya Pradesh (seven seats), Rajasthan (12 seats) and Jharkhand (four seats) — electioneering was spiced up by sharp exchanges. Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again attacked “Bofors accused” late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at a public rally in Jharkhand and Union Minister Smriti Irani accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of “booth capturing” in Amethi.

Gathbandhan vs BJP

Monday’s polling saw Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh contest from Lucknow, Rahul against Irani in Amethi, Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Saran in Bihar. In the 14 seats across Awadh and the eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh, the Gathbandhan of SP/BSP/RLD is locked in a direct and keen contest with BJP. In 2014, the BJP had bagged 12 of the 14 seats. Polling percentage for these seats was slightly higher at 57.33 per cent, against 56.92 per cent in 2014.

The situation was volatile in West Bengal, which recorded a higher voter turnout of 73.97 per cent and much street violence.

Violence in West Bengal

At least three BJP candidates were attacked and intermittent violence was reported across seven seats — Howrah, Uluberia, Hooghly, Serampore, Arambagh, Barrackpore and Bongaon. The seats comprise a stronghold of the Trinamool Congress, which is locked in a hostile fight with the BJP.

In Barrackpore, BJP candidate and local strongman Arjun Singh suffered injuries on his face after an alleged attack by TMC workers. Singh, a TMC dissident miffed at not being given a party ticket, is taking on former Railway Minister and sitting TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi.

In Hooghly, BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee was heckled and her car vandalised, allegedly by TMC workers, in the Dhanekhali area. Chatterjee is taking on TMC’s Ratna De Nag. The border seat of Bongaon saw a TMC worker suffer head injuries after motor bike-borne miscreants hurled crude bombs at Himli.

In Anantnag, the Lok Sabha seat in J&K where polling is being held in three legs in view of the security threats, a shocking 3 per cent voting was reported with over 25 per cent stations not recording any polling. Polling there ended at 4 pm, two hours before the scheduled time for other seats. The final count of 3 per cent included even migrant votes in six Assembly segments across two districts, Election Commission (EC) officials said.

The EC had clubbed many polling stations at one location to ensure minimal dispersion of security forces in Shopian and Pulwama districts, where deserted roads and the heavy presence of armed forces marked polling day.

More reports p14

Published on May 06, 2019
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