Barring the killing of a policeman in Assam's Kokrajhar district in BSF firing to ward off mobs trying to capture a booth and a suspected Maoist attack on a poll team in Jharkhand, the polling today was peaceful. (Agencies)
The turnout today in all the 11 states and 1 union territory, including Mumbai, was higher than the previous Lok Sabha elections in 2009, in sync with the trend witnessed in the five earlier phases this time.
While the highest turnout of 83 percent was recorded in the lone seat of Puducherry followed by West Bengal (82 percent for six seats) and 73 percent for all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu which saw singled-phased polling on Thursday.
Only two states--Rajasthan (59.2 per cent for five seats) and Maharashtra (55.33 per cent for 19 seats)—registered below 60% turnout.
Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag constituency, where PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti in in fray, recorded the lowest turnout of 28 percent today but it was still higher than the 26.9 percent recorded five years ago.
About 18 crore voters were eligible in the sixth phase to exercise their franchise to decide the electoral fate of nearly 2100 candidates including political heavyweights like External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid (Congress) who is in fray from Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh state, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav contesting from Mainpuri also in UP, leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj (BJP) in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, her party colleague Shahnawaz Hussain in Bhagalpur in Bihar and President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit in Jangipur in West Bengal.
After today’s polling, the voting in 347, or close to two third, of the total of 543 Lok Sabha seats are over with 216 seats left in the remaining three of the total of nine phases of the elections.
Today’s was the second biggest phase of the staggered elections after the fourth phase held on April 17 covered 121 seats.
BJP and Congress are squared off in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh states but the politically most important part of today’s polling was the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu where BJP and a cluster of smaller regional parties have firmed up a rainbow alliance projected by opinion polls as having a realistic chance of bagging six to seven seats.
Congress, shorn of allies in the wake of DMK spurning its offer for a prepoll pact, contested from all 39 seats while the two Left parties, dumped by AIADMK over seat-sharing wrangle at the last minute, fielded nominees in 18 constituencies overall.
Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa had undertaken a gruelling campaign to ensure victory of her party candidates in all the 40 constituencies, including Puducherry, to realise her dream of playing a prominent role at the national polity post-elections.
Setting aside a host of problems, including the sibling war, DMK headed by the nonagenarian M Karunanidhi, has strained every nerve to check the winning streak of AIADMK and win the confidence of the electorate with just two years left for the 2016 Assembly polls.
In the 2009 general elections, DMK in alliance with Congress had won 18 seats while the latter got eight. AIADMK netted nine while MDMK, CPI, CPI-M and VCK won one each.
In Alandur Assembly constituency in Chennai, where a bypoll was held, about 65 per cent of voters of the 3.13 lakh electorate cast their votes.
The city witnessed a minor clash between AIADMK and DMK men in a booth in Central Chennai constituency towards close of polling, police said.
Electoral authorities forced five companies, found functioning in an IT park in Chennai violating its directive to declare a holiday, to close down and lodged a complaint with the police against them.
Technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines held up polling briefly in several polling booths across the state, according to reports received here.
A report from Madurai, quoting officials, said an average 70 percent of votes were cast in the southern districts, and the polling was peaceful barring the two incidents.
As usual, there were boycotts by groups of voters in some places protesting against local issues.
More than 2,500 voters in and around Nanjanad village in Nilgiris (SC) constituency, boycotted the polls protesting government apathy to solve the long-pending issue of performing pooja at a Shiva Temple.
In Puducherry, Chief Electoral Officer T Srikanth said polling was peaceful except for a few minor incidents. Yanam region came out with an impressive 89 percent turnout.
Barring the killing of a policeman in Assam's Kokrajhar district in BSF firing to ward off mobs trying to capture a booth and a suspected Maoist attack on a poll team in Jharkhand, the polling today was peaceful.