New Delhi, May 12: Around 51 per cent voters kept their date with democracy in the sixth phase of polling, registering around 45 per cent polling on Sunday at 59 seats in seven states.
According to the Election Commission, Jharkhand recorded highest polling of 58.08 per cent till 3pm, followed by West Bengal at 56 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 52 per cent, Bihar 44.73 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 43.35 per cent, Puducherry 33 per cent, national capital 32 per cent, while Haryana recorded the least voting of 31.5 per cent. Polling, which started on a dull note in the morning hours, picked up pace as the day progressed. Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh recorded improvement in the day time, as people started gathering in front of the polling stations.
The sixth phase saw bigwigs like President Ram Nath Kovind, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and former Union Minister Ajay Maken exercising their franchise in the national capital. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, BJP candidate and cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also cast their vote in the national capital.
According to official data, till 4pm, 45.22 per cent voter turnout was registered for seven Lok Sabha constituencies of Delhi. At 4pm, voter turnout at Chandni Chowk was recorded at 44.90 per cent, North East Delhi ( 47.36 per cent), East Delhi (46.70 per cent), New Delhi (43.13 per cent), North West Delhi (SC)--46.75 per cent, West Delhi (44.33 per cent) and South Delhi (42.51 per cent). The President, former Delhi Chief Minister and Congress candidate from North East parliamentary seat Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and BJP candidate from East Delhi Gautam Gambhir were among the early voters, who exercised their franchise in the national capital.
Mr Kovind cast his vote at a polling booth in the Rashtrapati Bhawan here. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu returned from his official visit to Vietnam and along with his wife Usha, cast their votes at Nirman Bhawan polling booth. Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, with his family, exercised their franchise in the National Capital and urged Delhiites to come and vote. 'Voting is our right and responsibility. I urge you all to exercise this right!," Mr Baijal said in a tweet.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, BJP's New Delhi candidate Meenakshi Lekhi and AAP east Delhi candidate Atishi, apart from former President Pranab Mukherjee and senior CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat cast their vote in New Delhi. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora also and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa also exercised their franchise.
In the neighbouring state of Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Team India captain Virat Kohli polled in Gurugram.
According to Election Commission sources in Bengal, while Kanthi accounted for 57.09 per cent, Medinipur for 53.02 per cent, Jhargram for 58.21 per cent, Bishnupur for 52.84 per cent, Bankura for 52.82 per cent, Purulia for 56.60 per cent, Tamluk for 59.07 per cent and Ghatal for 54.95 per cent.
In Keshpur, BJP candidate, former IPS officer and once a trusted lieutenant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bharati Ghosh was gheraoed by villagers, when she went to a booth. Ghosh's security resorted to baton charge following which locals lobbed stones injuring one of her security guards. Ghosh's car was ransacked. The incident took place at around 0800 hrs. Ghosh was in tears, after she was attacked, heckled and pushed to the ground at a polling station.
Soon after, she was heckled at another polling station. The EC has sought a report after Ms Ghosh allegedly tried to enter the booth with her mobile phone and took a video.
"I am a candidate. I can always enter a polling booth. Those who are trying to stop me should be arrested. They (Trinamool) are resorting to organised violence against me, " Ghosh said before leaving the spot.
A Trinamool Congress worker too was injured after he was hit by a bullet fired by Ghosh's bodyguard in the violence.
Sources at Bihar election office said that highest 52.02 per cent polling was recorded in Valmikinagar constituency followed by 48.33 per cent in West Champaran, 46.94 per cent in Vaishali, 45.75 per cent in East Champaran, 43.76 per cent in Gopalganj, 43.50 per cent in Sheohar, 41.50 per cent in Siwan and 37 per cent in Maharajganj.
Meanwhile, a polling official identified as Shivendra Kishore (34) was critically injured when a bullet misfired from the rifle of a Home Guard Saryug Das hit him at polling booth number 275 under Sheohar Assembly segment in Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency. The mishap took place, when the Home Guard was adjusting the butt of his rifle.
Mr Kishore after his preliminary treatment at Sheohar Sadar Hospital was rushed to Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where he died during treatment. Bachan Singh, an 111-year-old man who is the oldest voter in New Delhi, where polling is underway for the seven Lok Sabha seats along with six other states of the country, exercised his franchise at a polling booth. Mr Singh exercised his franchise at Sant Garh polling booth at Tilak Vihar. He was taken inside the polling station on a wheel chair.
For the 17th Lok Sabha polls, the number of voters for Delhi's seven seats, who are more than 100 years, are 96. Among the women voters in Delhi, the oldest is 110-year-old Ram Pyari Shankhwar, residing in Kondli area of East Delhi.
Elections to seven parliamentary seats in Delhi are witnessing triangular contest between the AAP, BJP and the Congress. An average voter turnout of 58.08 per cent has been recorded till 1500hrs on four Lok Sabha seats of Jharkhand, including Giridih, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Singhbhum (ST), where voting was currently on in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Constituency-wise, Giridih has witnessed a voter turnout of 60.24 per cent, Dhanbad 54.66 per cent, Jamshedpur 58.74 per cent and Singhbhum 59.96 per cent. Voting on these seats will continue till 1600 hrs. Around 43.35 per cent of the 2.57 crore voters exercised their franchise till 1500 hrs in 14 Lok Sabha (LS) seats of Poorwanchal region in Uttar Pradesh in the sixth phase.
Though the polling started in a brisk note in the morning, but slowed down later. Sporadic incidents of clashes were reported from Jaunpur and Sultanpur. A report from Jaunpur said that BJP supporters and police fought a pitched battle near booth number 369 in Shahganj area of Jaunpur LS seat. The dispute started when the police allegedly beat up a BJP supporter after he objected to a policeman cleaning his shoe with BJP flag. Later, the BJP workers 'attacked the police and stones were also pelted on them'. Subsequently, police also resorted to lathicharge.
In Ambedkarnagar Lok Sabha seat, polling personnel protested in Bikarpur area of Ayodhya district, when tehsildar Digvijay Singh slapped a polling personnel, while in Sant Kabir Nagar Lok Sabha constituency, an Army personnal had a verbal dispute with a policeman inside a booth in Khajni area.
A report from Sultanpur said that BJP candidate and Union minister Maneka Gandhi had some verbal argument with BSP candidate Sonu Singh outside a booth. Ms Gandhi alleged that the voters were being threatened by the BSP candidate, who was accompanied by a history-sheeter, who is on the run.
In a separate incident in Bahurava village under Baldirai of Sultanpur, clashes broke out between BJP and BSP workers, forcing the police to resort to 'mild lathicharge,' to disperse the mob. District Panchayat Chairman's husband and BJP leader Shivkumar Singh's vehicle was also attacked. Some eyewitnesses also claimed that the clash took place, when some leaders were trying to 'distribute money among the voters'.
Another report from Pratapgarh said that the district authorities have detained 12 political leaders, including senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari, in his house till the end of polling to ensure free and fair polls. Reports of delay in voting also came from a couple of booths in Mungrabadshahpur Assembly segment in Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat, while in Pratapgarh, around five EVMs were replaced.
In Phulpur LS seat, EVMs were changed at the two booths, while in Allahabad, polling was delayed in three booths due to faulty EVMs. Another report from Pratapgarh said that polling was suspended in booth number 394 and 395 after some miscreants changed the voters' list. Later, on the intervention of the EC, original voters' list was made available to the booth officials and then only the polling commenced.
Long queue of women voters was observed in front of polling stations, while security arrangement was in place, with the deployment of 7,000 security personnel in Tripura re-poll for 1-Tripura West parliamentary constituency.
It has decided by the EC to conduct the re-polls in 168 polling stations in 26 Assembly segments as electoral malpractices were found during voting in the first phase of the ongoing general elections on April 11.