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Voters muster strong at booths across India

Friday, 11 April 2014 | PNS | New Delhi

It was a historic turnout across the country as the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls witnessed record voting in western UP, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Kerala. About 11 crore voters in 91 seats spread across 10 States and four Union Territories exercised their franchise, which in some States was recorded to be the highest ever.

Voting concluded largely peacefully for all Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, Delhi, Kerala, six seats in Bihar, four seats in Jharkhand, nine seats in Madhya Pradesh, 10 seats each in Maharashtra and Odisha, and 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The four UTs which voted in the third phase were Chandigarh, Andaman &  Nicobar, Lakshadweep and Delhi.

Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar witnessed Naxal-related violence which left two CRPF jawans and one State police personnel dead.

Till the last report came in, the voter turnout in UP and Chandigarh threw record results. In UP, an average 65 per cent votes were polled — 14 per cent rise from 51.30 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli recorded higher turnout of 68.27 per cent and 70.85 per cent respectively. Ghaziabad district witnessed 60 per cent voter turnout, much higher than the 2009 figure of 44 per cent, where the contest is among former Army chief VK Singh, Congress’ Raj Babbar and Shazia Ilmi of the AAP.

The vote percentage in 2009 polls in these districts was 51.30 per cent while in 2012 Assembly polls the turnout was 61.78 per cent. According to EC sources, Saharanpur polling touched 73 per cent, while 69 per cent voting was reported from Kairana.

Similarly, Bijnore had 62.96 per cent polling, Meerut 60.50 per cent, Baghpat 61.52 per cent, Ghaziabad 57.42 per cent, Gautam Buddha Nagar 47.20 per cent, Bulandshahr 61.60 per cent and Aligarh 55.60 per cent.

Chandigarh sprung a surprise with 72 per cent polling, the highest ever figure recorded in the lone Parliamentary constituency.Jammu recorded 66.29 per cent polling followed by 55.98 per cent in Madhya Pradesh and about 62.3 per cent in ten LS seats in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Kerala reported 73.4 per cent polling across 20 seats while Lakshadweep reported 70 per cent voting. Among eastern Indian States, Odisha recorded the highest ever 67 per cent polling, Jharkhand 58.3 per cent, Andaman & Nicobar Islands 70 per cent and Bihar registered 53 per cent for six LS seats. Bypoll to Naxal-infested Bastar constituency in Chhattisgarh witnessed low polling at 51.4 per cent.

In Odisha, Maoists snatched EVMs and took away the battery of one voting machine. The EC decided to postpone polling in 22 places in Bihar — 19 in Jamui, two in Nawada and one in Gaya — as polling personnel were not sent there keeping in mind their safety. The fresh date of polls in these areas will be decided soon.

In Haryana too, the voting was aggressive that stood at 73 per cent. In 2009, the voters’ turnout in the State was 68 per cent. Heavy voter turnout was witnessed this year at Kurukshetra and Sirsa. In Hisar, skirmish was reported between supporters of INLD and Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC-BL) in Nalwa constituency over claims of “bogus voting” in a booth. Here HJC leader and sitting MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, who is taking on INLD’s greenhorn Dushyant Chautala, received minor injuries.

The EC maintained that the turnout could be “much higher” in all the seats as final reports were yet to come in with voting still on after the stipulated hours in various areas.

Key candidates whose fate have been sealed in the third phase of elections included Union Ministers Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath, Ajay Maken, Krishna Tirath, Praful Patel, Naveen Jindal, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, former Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh, former Minister of State Vilas Muttemwar, former Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar, former BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Chirag Paswan (Son of LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan), Deependra Hooda (son of Haryana CM Bhoopinder Hooda), AAP leader Yogendra Yadav.

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