The fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections concluded on Monday, with voters across nine states casting their ballot to elect representatives in 72 seats. Polling will be held in three more phases on May 6, May 12 and May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.

Voting took place in five constituencies in Bihar, one seat in Jammu and Kashmir, six in Madhya Pradesh, 17 in Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 13 in Rajathan, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, eight seats in West Bengal and three in Jharkhand. Elections were also held for 42 Assembly seats in Odisha and bye-polls for Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, Nighasan in Uttar Pradesh and Krishnaganj in West Bengal.

The Election Commission said the overall turnout in the fourth phase was 64%. At 8 pm, 76.66% of the electorate had voted in West Bengal. The turnout was 67.49% in Rajasthan, 63.77% in Jharkhand, 66.68% in Madhya Pradesh, 64.05% in Odisha, 58.92% in Bihar, 57.29% in Uttar Pradesh, 55.85% in Maharashtra and just 9.79% in Jammu and Kashmir.

The first phase of polling was held on April 11, the second on April 18 and the third on April 23.

Complaints and controversies

There were several incidents of violence reported in West Bengal. The car of Union minister Babul Supriyo, the BJP candidate from Asansol, was vandalised outside a polling station. Supriyo alleged that Trinamool Congress workers had captured booths in several places.

Violence was also reported from Birbhum district of West Bengal, where nine workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress were injured. Central forces allegedly fired in the air inside a booth in Dubrajpur after villagers attacked them. The Trinamool Congress wrote to the Election Commission protesting against the forces’ action.

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said a party delegation met Election Commission officials and raised the matter of poll violence in West Bengal. “We have asked deputation of central forces at all polling booths so that free and fair elections can be held in the state,” he added.

The BJP asked the Election Commission to conduct re-polling in Chapra in Krishnanagar constituency, Chakdah in Ranaghat constituency, Barabani, Asansol, Pandaweshwar in Asansol constituency, and in all booths in Birbhum. A Trinamool Congress delegation also met Election Commission officials.

Union Minister and BJP candidate Babul Supriyo's car that was vandalised during the fourth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Asansol on April 29, 2019. (Image credit: IANS)

In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party alleged that voting at a booth in Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency was held up for three hours due to glitches in electronic voting machines. The party urged the poll panel to look into the matter.

There were complaints of malfunctioning EVMs in three booths in Munger in Bihar, two in Darbhanga and three in Begusarai. An EVM also malfunctioned at a booth in Samastipur in Bihar, delaying voting. Similar complaints were reported from parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.

An EVM was replaced in Patlipada village in Maharashtra, after it developed a snag. Another EVM was replaced in Panvel in Navi Mumbai and Malad suburb of Mumbai. The Congress filed 30 complaints with the Election Commission alleging glitches in EVMs across Maharashtra. Most of the complaints came from Dhule and Nandurbar, it alleged.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer VL Kantha Rao said that during a mock-poll, EVMs were replaced at 207 polling booths due to glitches, PTI reported. EVMs were also replaced at 106 polling booths after the voting began.

In Hardoi town in Uttar Pradesh, a woman complained that the presiding officer at Jamkara booth under Sandila area forcibly pressed one of the EVM buttons. The officer has been sacked and an inquiry ordered.

Nashik Nationalist Congress Party candidate Sameer Bhujbal’s mother’s name was missing from the electoral roll. Others members of the Bhujbal family cast their votes in the city.

Incidents of stone pelting were reported from Kulgam district in Jammu and Kashmir. There were no reports of any injuries, a police officer said.

As many as 25 Sindhis living in Pimpri-Chinchwad city near Pune cast their votes on Monday for the first time, PTI reported. These individuals were among 45 people who got Indian citizenship last month, decades after migrating from Pakistan.

The poll panel said in a press conference that the elections in Madhya Pradesh were free of incidents. In Jharkhand too, the voting was peaceful except for a couple of very minor incidents of violence, it added. In Chattra, the last voter damaged the EVM at 3.50 pm, however, the control unit of the machine and the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail were intact.

Only 0.44% of ballot units had to be replaced, the poll panel said. It said 0.46% of the control units and 1.91% of the VVPATs were replaced. These figures are much lower than for the first three phases, the Election Commission said.

The 2019 General Elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.