Millions vote in second phase

Millions vote in second phase
An election official applies the indelible ink on the finger of a bride at a polling station, during the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Bengaluru on Thursday

Sporadic violence, EVM glitches mar Lok Sabha polls; 66 per cent turn out


New Delhi: Millions voted across 95 Lok Sabha seats in 12 states and the Union Territory of Puducherry on Thursday in the second phase of the staggered battle for a new Parliament, marred by stray violence in West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir and EVM glitches in seven states.

An electorate of 15.7 crore voted to elect 95 Lok Sabha members out of the 1,606 contestants on Thursday.

Except for some incidents of clashes between stone-pelters and security forces, polling ended peacefully in the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat on Thursday while eliciting overwhelming voter turnout in the Udhampur constituency.

Clashes broke out between security forces and stone-pelters who tried to disrupt the voting process in Batmaloo area of Srinagar city, Pandach area of Ganderbal district and at four other places in Badgam district in the Srinagar seat, officials said.

One civilian and four policemen, including two officers, were injured in these clashes but the security forces said they exercised maximum restraint to ensure that the violence did not overshadow the voting in Srinagar.

While the turnout in Srinagar was nearly 15 per cent, in Udhampur, over 65 per cent people cast their votes, including a newly-married couple who turned up in their wedding finery.

Polling in all other places was reportedly peaceful although complaints of glitches in electronic voting machines (EVMs) came from several states, briefly halting the electoral process.

Over 76 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the three northern West Bengal constituencies in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, amid several incidents of violence including an attack on CPI-M MP and candidate Mohammad Salim in Raniganj and the smashing of an EVM in a clash inside a polling booth in Darjeeling.

Unfazed by the summer heat and dust, voters turned out in large numbers in Karnataka. There was over 60 per cent polling in 14 of the state's 28 parliamentary constituencies, that went to polls in the first phase with the main fight between the ruling Congress-JD-S alliance and the BJP.

Over 63 per cent polling was recorded in Tamil Nadu where people elected 38 of 39 Lok Sabha members -- voting in Vellore has been postponed -- and 18 members to the state Assembly in bypolls.

After initial dull moments, the voting picked up dramatically in Odisha, which is electing five Lok Sabha and 35 Assembly members, to reach around 64 per cent.

In Bihar, over 62 per cent voting was reported in five of 40 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in the phase.

According to officials, polling was peaceful, save a reported incident of a paramilitary trooper at a polling booth opening fire and clashes between supporters of different parties.

People in about a dozen villages in all five constituencies boycotted the elections to protest against lack of development.

Uttar Pradesh's voting percentage was 62.3 per cent in all eight constituencies: Mathura, Hathras, Amroha, Agra, Fatehpur-Sikri, Aligarh, Nagina, Bulandshahr.

After a dull start, voting zoomed in Maharashtra which will elect 10 of the 48 Lok Sabha members on Thursday to around 57 per cent though it was expected to go up and voters were still in queues.

A voter smashed the EVM while casting his vote in the state's Akola Lok Sabha constituency.

The voter, Shrikrishna Ghyare, was taken into custody. The motive behind the action was not immediately known, police said.

On the fate of the votes already cast, the EC official explained that Ghyare had only broken the ballotting unit and the control unit or the VVPAT, placed a foot away with the election officials were safe.

In Chhattisgarh, Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon and Kanker, which went to polls on Thursday, recorded nearly 71 per cent turnout.

Polling was largely peaceful barring an unfortunate incident in Kanker where an assistant school teacher who was on election duty at Antagarh booth died of cardiac arrest. Maoists made a failed attempt to disrupt polling at Mohla area under Rajnandgaon seat by triggering an IED blast.

Polling was held in five seats in Assam, and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.

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