LS polls: 63% voting in sixth phase

Voters wait outside a polling booth to cast their votes during the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections 2019, at Baprola Nangloi, in West Delhi, Sunday, May 12, 2019. (PTI Photo)

At least 63.79% voters turned up at the polling stations as 59 constituencies in six states and the National Capital Territory of Delhi went to the polls in the sixth phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections on Sunday.

West Bengal, where eight Lok Sabha constituencies went to polls in the sixth phase, registered the highest turnout with over 80.52% voters casting votes, according to the latest information available with the Election Commission. The State also witnessed sporadic incidents of violence as it did in the earlier phases of polling. The poll-panel received reports of two Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) being damaged by miscreants in the State. Both were replaced before the polling started, the EC officials said in New Delhi. 

A paramilitary soldier had to open fire in air to disperse a mob at Tamluk constituency in West Bengal. A Trinamool Congress worker was injured when the security guards of Bharti Ghosh, the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate in Ghatal constituency in the State, resorted to lathi-charge and opened fire to disperse a mob that had waylaid her vehicle and started pelting stones at it. 

President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu cast their votes in New Delhi. The National Capital Territory saw 60.50% voters casting votes in seven parliamentary constituencies. The “First Family” of opposition Congress – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra – also cast votes in New Delhi. So did Aam Aadmi Party supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. 

The turnout was low in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh too – 59.29% and 54.74% respectively, according to the latest reports received at the EC headquarters in New Delhi. Eight constituencies in Bihar and 14 in Uttar Pradesh went to polls on Sunday. 

Ten Lok Sabha constituencies in Haryana went to the polls on Sunday with at vleast 69.23% voters casting votes. Madhya Pradesh, where eight constituencies went to polls in the sixth phase, registered a turnout of over 64.94%. The polling was also held in four constituencies in Jharkhand where at least 64.50% voters turned up at the polling station to exercise their franchise.  

The EC set up over 1.13 lakh polling stations for 10.17 crore voters were expected to cast votes to decide the fate of 979 candidates in 59 constituencies. Umesh Sinha, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner, said that the polling percentage was expected to go up further, when the EC would receive final reports from the Chief Electoral Officers in the respective states. 

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Singh (Azamgarh, UP) and union minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur, UP) and three former Chief Ministers of the Congress – Digvijay Singh (Bhopal, MP), Sheila Dikshit (North East Delhi) and Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Sonipat, Haryana) - are among the prominent candidates whose fates were sealed on Sunday. 

Digvijay Singh is facing a formidable challenge from the BJP's hardline Hindutva face, Sadhvi Pragya,   in Bhopal. Atishi of AAP has against her BJP's bet and ex-cricketer Gautam Gambhir in East Delhi. Dikshit is taking on the Bhojpuri singer and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, who had won the North East Delhi seat in 2014. Celebrity boxer Vijender Singh is the Congress' bet against the BJP's sitting MP Romesh Vidhuri and the AAP's Raghav Chadha, a chartered accountant, in South Delhi.  

With the sixth phase of polling concluding on Sunday, altogether 483 of the 542 Lok Sabha constituencies went to the polls so far. The polling for the 59 remaining seats in the Lower House of Parliament will take place in the seventh and the final phase on May 19. 

The votes will be counted on May 23. 

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