Lok Sabha polls – Phase 5: Over 57% voters cast their votes; West Bengal records highest voter turnout despite sporadic violence

While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout at 48.88 per cent, West Bengal recorded the highest polling percentage at 73

BySouth First Desk

Published May 20, 2024 | 8:37 AMUpdatedMay 20, 2024 | 11:56 PM

The residents of an old age home in Maharashtra cast their vote. (X)

Over 57 per cent voter turnout was recorded on Monday, 20 May, in 49 constituencies across six states and two Union territories that went to polls in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections. Sporadic incidents of violence was witnessed in West Bengal, besides EVM glitches at some booths in the state and neighbouring Odisha.

While Maharashtra recorded the lowest voter turnout at 48.88 per cent, West Bengal recorded the highest polling percentage at 73.

Among other states, Bihar recorded 52.55 cent turnout, Jammu and Kashmir 54.21 per cent, Jharkhand 63 per cent, Odisha 60.72 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 57.43 per cent and Ladakh 67.15.

According to the figures made available by the Election Commission of India (ECI) till 7 pm, the approximate polling percentage was at 57.38.

Although voting time is only till 6 pm, people already in queues by that time are allowed to vote.

Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency recorded a voter turnout of more than 54 per cent, already registering its highest polling percentage in almost four decades. The overall polling percentage of 54.21 this time is second only to the 58.84 per cent turnout the constituency saw in 1984.

Prominent leaders seeking the mandate in the fifth phase include Rahul Gandhi (Rae Bareli), Union Ministers Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Smriti Irani (Amethi), and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Gandhi is contesting from two constituencies, Wayanad in Kerala, and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. Polling in Kerala had concluded in a single phase on 26 April.

Related: Nearly 67% voter turnout in first 4 phases of Lok Sabha elections

Voters wait their at a polling station in Lankreshipora, Bandipora, in Jammu and Kashmir. (CEO J&K/X)

Voters wait their at a polling station in Lankreshipora, Bandipora, in Jammu and Kashmir. (CEO J&K/X)

Violence in West Bengal

Scattered incidents of violence marred the polls in seven parliamentary constituencies of West Bengal where TMC and BJP workers clashed in various parts of Barrackpore, Bongaon, and Arambagh.

The poll panel said it has received 1,036 complaints from different political parties alleging EVM malfunctioning and agents being stopped from entering booths.

Clashes broke out between supporters of the TMC and BJP in the Khanakul area of the Arambagh constituency. In the neighbouring Hooghly constituency, BJP sitting MP and party candidate Locket Chatterjee faced protests from TMC activists led by TMC MLA Ashima Patra.

As Chatterjee was on her way to a booth, TMC activists staged protests and shouted “Chor Chor (thief) slogans” following which the BJP MP got down from her car and shouted slogans against them. A huge police and central forces contingent rushed to the spot and stopped the two groups.

Also Read: Raebareli, Amethi among 14 Uttar Pradesh seats going to polls on 20 May

Violence was also reported from various parts of the Howrah constituency. In the Liluah area of Howrah, the BJP accused TMC workers of booth jamming leading to clashes between both groups. The central police forces rushed to the area and dispersed them.

In Bongaon constituency’s Gayeshpur area, local BJP leader Subir Biswas was allegedly beaten by TMC supporters outside a booth. He was later shifted to the hospital. In the Kalyani area of the same constituency, Union Minister and BJP candidate Shantanu Thakur caught a person using the identity card of his rival TMC candidate Biswajit Das inside a polling booth.

The person was later removed from the booth by central forces.

TMC workers also staged protests in some areas following allegations that central forces were assisting BJP workers for allegedly intimidating voters at some booths of Hooghly.

Election officials about to leave for their assigned stations after collecting polling materials. (ECI Website)

Election officials about to leave for their assigned stations after collecting polling materials. (ECI Website)

EVM malfunctioning in Uttar Pradesh

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress claimed EVM malfunctioning and accused the BJP of not allowing people to cast votes in three booths in Bela Khara village in Rahi block.

In a post on X, the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress, said, “Booth number 5, Rasulpur in Sareni in Rae Bareli is closed since 8 am (and) voters are going back. So this is how (the target of) 400 (seats) will be crossed!”

Samajwadi Party candidate from Gonda constituency Shreya Verma complained to the Election Commission that fair polling is not taking place at booth numbers 180 and 181 in the Mankapur area. According to reports from Kaushambi, voters of Hisampur Madho village boycotted the polls.

The villagers told the officials that they would consider voting only after the administration assured them that a road and railway bridge connecting the village to other areas would be built.

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Voting in Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray claimed there were a lot of complaints from electors about facilities outside polling booths.

Voting is also being held in 35 Assembly constituencies in Odisha. (ECI Website)

Voting is also being held in 35 Assembly constituencies in Odisha. (ECI Website)

“A lot of complaints from voters about the facilities outside the booths @ECISVEEP. At least having the voter lines in shade/ fans could help. They don’t want much, just basics to stay cool. Please look into it,” Thackeray said in a post on X.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged that Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Sanjay Raut and Sunil Raut were found involved in “corrupt practices” outside their polling booth at Bhandup in Mumbai.

The former MP also claimed that two activists of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) were arrested for “illegal and corrupt practices of using a fake EVM”.

However, MLA Sunil Raut, who is the brother of Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut, dismissed the allegations saying a dummy electronic voting machine (EVM) was kept outside the 100-metre radius of the polling booth for educational purposes.

Still, the police removed it under “political pressure”, he claimed.

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Violence in Odisha

In Odisha, some unidentified persons allegedly hacked an auto-rickshaw driver to death near Sarsara in Bargarh district. The deceased was carrying some voters to the polling booth. While the family members claimed it was a political murder, police say personal enmity is the reason behind the crime.

EVM glitches were also reported at some places in Odisha.

Over 8.95 crore people, including 4.26 crore females and 5,409 third-gender electors, are eligible to vote in this round and 9.47 lakh polling officials have been deployed across 94,732 polling stations.

Polling for 23 states and Union territories and 379 seats has been completed so far.

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Rahul Gandhi visits Raebareli

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday, 20 May visited a Hanuman temple in Raebareli. He also visited several polling booths in the constituency from where he is contesting. Rae Bareli was represented by his mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier.

Gandhi was seen offering prayers to Lord Hanuman during his visit. Later, he visited several polling booths in the constituency, a PTI video showed.

During Gandhi’s visit to one of the booths, several people gathered around him for a selfie. Some mediapersons too tried to talk to him but he left.

Prominent leaders in the fray 

Other prominent leaders seeking the mandate on Monday include Union Ministers, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti (Fatehpur) and Shantanu Thakur (Bangaon); LJP (Ram Vilas) leader Chirag Paswan (Hajipur), Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde (Kalyan), and BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RJD president Lalu Prasad’s daughter Rohini Acharya (both Saran).

In Amethi, Irani, who had defeated Rahul Gandhi in 2019, is seeking a second term, while KL Sharma, an aide of the Gandhi family, has been fielded by the Congress.

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(With PTI inputs)