LS polls phase 6: Over 61 per cent polling, Bengal’s Jangal Mahal region logs 79.47

New Delhi, May 25 (PTI) An estimated voter turnout of 61.2 per cent was recorded in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election on Saturday in 58 constituencies across six states and two Union territories, with the polling percentage in the Jangal Mahal region of West Bengal touching 79.47.

Incidents of violence, including an alleged assault on a BJP candidate, minor clashes and protests were reported from West Bengal while there were instances of EVM malfunctioning at some places, including Delhi.

Jharkhand recorded a turnout of 63.76 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 54.03 per cent, Bihar 55.24 per cent, Jammu and Kashmir 54.3 per cent, Haryana 60.4 per cent, Odisha 69.56 and Delhi 57.67 per cent, according to the figures updated at 11:45 pm by the EC on its voter turnout app.

The EC said polling percentage in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat in Jammu and Kashmir is the highest in 40 years.

With the conclusion of this phase, polling is now complete in 486 seats in 28 states and Union territories. The last of the seven phases of polling in 57 seats is scheduled on June 1 and counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

With large parts of India sweltering under a heatwave, arrangements for cold water, coolers, fans and tents were made at several polling stations. Wheelchairs were also kept for the assistance of elderly voters.

The EC had directed election officials and state machineries to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather.

Over 11.13 crore voters – 5.84 crore male, 5.29 crore female and 5120 third gender – were eligible to exercise their franchise in this phase. The Election Commission (EC) deployed around 11.4 lakh polling officials at 1.14 lakh polling stations.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat in Jammu and Kashmir, staged a sit-in outside Bijbehara police station on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Anantnag district against alleged detention of her party workers and polling agents. She also claimed outgoing calls on her mobile number were suspended.

Police, however, said those detained were overground workers and the action was taken to ensure smooth conduct of elections.

Mehbooba’s daughter and PDP leader Iltija Mufti alleged polling was deliberately slowed down at a booth in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, a charge denied by the administration.

In the national capital, President Droupadi Murmu, Union ministers S Jaishankar and Hardeep Singh Puri, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi minister Atishi and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were among those who cast their votes.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat alleged she had to wait for almost an hour to cast her vote as the battery of the EVM control unit at her polling booth “drained out”. The District Election Officer later said the battery was replaced within 15 minutes.

Besides all the seven seats of Delhi, polling was held in 14 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, all 10 seats in Haryana, eight seats each in Bihar and West Bengal, six seats in Odisha, four seats in Jharkhand and one seat in Jammu and Kashmir.

Simultaneously, polling was being held for 42 assembly constituencies in Odisha and the Karnal assembly bypoll in Haryana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha elections in large numbers.

In Haryana, BJP’s Karnal Lok Sabha seat candidate Manohar Lal Khattar and Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, who is contesting the Karnal assembly bypoll, were among the first to cast their votes at their respective booths.

Saini, accompanied by his family members, cast his vote in his native Mirjapur Majra village in Ambala district’s Naraingarh. Khattar exercised his franchise at a polling booth in Karnal’s Prem Nagar.

In West Bengal, voting was held in the tribal belt Jangal Mahal region, spanning five districts. A hotspot for identity politics, the region sends eight representatives to Lok Sabha from Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura, and Bishnupur seats. Out of the eight seats, the BJP won five and TMC bagged three in the 2019 polls.

BJP’s Jhargram candidate Pranat Tudu claimed his convoy was attacked in Garbeta area of Paschim Medinipur district, following which security personnel escorting him were injured and had to be hospitalised. Tudu also received injuries on his forehead, which needed medical attention.

Minor clashes broke out between supporters of the ruling TMC and BJP in the Ghatal constituency over stopping polling agents from entering the booths.

In the Midnapore constituency, BJP candidate Agnimitra Paul faced “go back” slogans from TMC activists. Subsequently, a scuffle broke out between BJP and TMC activists, following which central forces reached the spot to disperse the mob.

A group of people shouted slogans against BJP candidate and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay when he reached the polling booth in Tamluk.

In Uttar Pradesh, polling was held for Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi seats.

Around 82.16 lakh voters, including 40.09 lakh females, were eligible to exercise their franchise in Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi and Jamshedpur constituencies of Jharkhand.

In a bid to increase polling percentage in urban booths of Ranchi, the district administration tied up with a bike-taxi aggregator to provide free pick-and-drop facilities to voters.

In Bihar, 86 candidates are in the fray in the eight seats of Valmiki Nagar, Pashchim Champaran, Purbi Champaran, Sheohar, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Vaishali.

Officials said 107 people were arrested or detained in the state for causing disruptions and attempting to hinder the voting process. Security forces seized Rs 2.86 crore in cash and 3.53 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 9.46 crore from various locations within the eight seats during the day.

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