The third and the largest phase of the Lok Sabha elections concluded on Tuesday, with voters across 13 states and two Union territories exercising their franchise to elect representatives in 117 seats. Polling will continue in four more phases of elections on April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.
All the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, all 20 seats in Kerala and both seats in Goa, as well as parts of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal went to polls on Tuesday. Polling was also held in the Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu – one seat each – and in Tripura East Lok Sabha seat, where voting was postponed because of law and order considerations in the second phase. Bye-polls in four Assembly seats in Gujarat were also held.
The overall turnout was estimated at 66.04% at 10 pm. The voter turnouts in the states were 63.68% in Gujarat, 72.39% in Kerala, 73.88% in Goa, 59.97% in Bihar, 80.75% in Assam, 12.86% in Jammu and Kashmir, 67.66% in Karnataka, 59.30% in Maharashtra, 61.51% in Odisha, 61.40% in Uttar Pradesh, 79.89% in Tripura, and 79.91% in West Bengal. Dadra and Nagar Haveli recorded 79.59% voter turnout, while Daman and Diu recorded 71.82%.
Complaints and controversies
Voting was delayed or interrupted due to malfunctioning electronic voting machines in parts of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka. The Election Commission replaced an entire set of voting machines at a polling station in South Goa constituency. The polling body said overall, it replaced 2.24% of the VVPATs on Tuesday.
In Kerala, faulty electronic voting machines interrupted polling at booths in Alathur, Palakkad, Kasaragod, Pathanamthitta, Cherthala in Alappuzha district and Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram.
Chief Minister P Vijayan, who cast his vote at Pinarayi in Kannur district, said there was a problem in the voting machine in his booth and two other nearby places. He claimed that Election Commission officials had not taken serious efforts to ensure accuracy of the EVMs.
In the state’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, a voter who alleged that a VVPAT machine had wrongly registered his vote was arrested after he was unable to prove his claim.
In Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha, workers of the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front alleged that votes cast for a Congress candidate was registered as a vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Polling was extended beyond 6 pm in several parts of Kerala due to rain.
In Uttar Pradesh, voters complained of slow and non-functional EVMs in Firozabad, Bareilly and Aonla seats and there were reports of problems with VVPATs at a booth in Firozabad. Voting was delayed at Bihar’s Supaul parliamentary constituency as a faulty EVM had to be replaced.
In Goa, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar claimed votes were registered in the BJP’s name despite buttons of other parties being pressed during mock polling. He alleged foul play by the BJP and said he would approach the Election Commission.
The Election Commission’s enforcement team seized cash, liquor, drugs, metals and freebies worth Rs 3,126.09 crore.
Violence disrupts polling
In West Bengal, a voter was killed and two were injured in a clash between workers of the Trinamool Congress and Congress in Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency. Party workers had reportedly clashed over allegations of proxy voting at the booth.
In a separate incident, three Trinamool Congress workers were injured after a crude bomb was hurled at them in Domkal municipality in Murshidabad constituency. In Balurghat constituency, a polling agent, Babul Murmu, was found dead at his house in Buniadpur in Dakshin Dinajpur.
In Odisha, a polling official at booth number 41 in Kantapal village in Dhenkanal collapsed and died.