Voting in all seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Sunday evening, with the electorate in 59 constituencies in seven states and the Union territory of Chandigarh exercising their franchise in the final phase. Results for all seven phases will be out on Thursday.
All constituencies in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, as well as parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal voted on Sunday. As of 8 pm, the overall estimated voter turnout was 62.38%.
The turnout in Bihar was estimated at 53.36%, while it was 68.46% in Himachal Pradesh, 70.33% in Madhya Pradesh, 61.81% in Punjab, 57.30% in Uttar Pradesh, 73.51% in West Bengal, 71.11% in Jharkhand and 63.57% in Chandigarh.
Among major candidates who contested Sunday’s elections were Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, and Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib.
The elections began on April 11, with subsequent phases held on April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6 and May 12. The voter turnout in the first phase was over 69.62%, while it was 69.44% in the second phase. The third phase saw 68.40% of the voters turning up, and the fourth phase had 65.50%. The voter turnout in the fifth phase of polling was 64.16%, and it was 64.60% in the sixth phase.
Bye-elections for four Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, six in West Bengal, and one each in Bihar, Goa and Karnataka also took place on Sunday.
Exit polls released soon after polling ended predicted a comfortable majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance.
Complaints and controversies
Stray incidents of violence broke out again in parts of West Bengal. There were reports of crude bombs being hurled in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts after which there was huge deployment of security forces. Crude bombs were also found in two plastic containers in Newtown in Barasat Lok Sabha seat, while a crude bomb exploded near Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral home in Kolkata. A quick response team was rushed to the spot, and voting was stopped for a while in booths near the area.
In Diamond Harbour constituency, the car of Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Nilanjan Roy was vandalised, ANI reported. Roy claimed that supporters of the Trinamool Congress were behind the attack. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the Trinamool Congress of massive rigging in Diamond Harbour, Dum Dum and North Kolkata constituencies.
In Jaynagar, Trinamool Congress workers allegedly beat up supporters of the BJP and vandalised their office, according to the Hindustan Times.
BJP state General Secretary Sayantan Basu claimed there was rigging in several areas and the party had filed about 150 complaints with the Election Commission within three hours. Basu is the BJP’s candidate in Basirhat constituency. Additional forces were sent at a polling station in Basirhat.
Anupam Hazra, the BJP’s candidate in Jadavpur, alleged that women Trinamool Congress workers were casting proxy votes, ANI reported. CPI(M)’s North Kolkata candidate Koninika Ghosh protested on a road after she claimed that three agents of her party were beaten up and driven out of polling booths.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress alleged that central security forces were “brutally torturing” and “intimidating” voters on orders of BJP leaders, PTI reported. “Even physically handicapped persons are being tortured,” claimed party leader Derek O’Brien. “Central forces are also threatening voters ‘kamal dabao nahin toh thok dega’ [vote for BJP or will shoot you].”
The BJP said the allegations were baseless and that goons supported by the Trinamool Congress were trying to intimidate voters.
In Uttar Pradesh, residents of Tara Jivanpur village in Chandauli parliamentary constituency asked the police to file a first information report against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate and party state president Mahendra Nath Pandey for allegedly indulging in electoral malpractices, reported News18. Villagers alleged that BJP workers distributed Rs 500 among the residents, applied the indelible ink on their index fingers and asked them not to cast their votes.
In Punjab, there were some reports of technical glitches in electronic voting machines at several places, including Ludhiana, Samana and Moga, PTI reported. The state’s Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said eight ballot units, 13 control units, and eight voter-verified paper audit trail machines were replaced. There were also reports of clashes between workers of the Congress and the BJP-Akali Dal coalition in Bathinda and Gurdaspur.