The world's largest polling exercise began Thursday with an estimated 9 crore Indians coming out to vote for electing 91 parliamentarians in the first phase of over-a-month-long Lok Sabha elections for which the Modi government has made nationalism its core pitch against a fragmented opposition.
Poll-related violence saw two deaths in Andhra Pradesh, complaints poured in about missing voter names and glitches in electronic voting machines in some areas, while Naxal-affected regions of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh saw IED blasts and clashes with security forces, though officials maintained the polling was largely peaceful with moderate-to-large voter turnout.
West Bengal recorded a polling percentage of 81 per cent while Bihar recorded 53 per cent voter turnout – the lowest among the 20 states and Union Territories which went to polls on Thursday.
In the first phase, the BJP has sought to defend 32 seats, including those being fought by senior party leader Nitin Gadkari and five other union ministers, and also expand its tally in states dominated by regional players last time.
The main opposition party Congress is hoping to defend seven seats it won in 2014, besides eyeing gains in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The first-phase Lok Sabha constituencies included all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 17 in Telangana, five in Uttarakhand, two in Meghalaya, two in Arunachal Pradesh and lone seats in Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep.
Besides, eight seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, five in Assam, four each in Bihar and Odisha, two each in Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal and one seat in Chhattisgarh are also part of the first-phase. These states are having multi-phase voting.
The poll panel did not share the overall polling percentage at its briefing, saying the data was still being collated. However, the estimates pegged the total voter turnout in the first phase at around 9 crore.
Here is a state-wise look into the first phase of voting:
The single phase assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh witnessed a massive voter turnout of over 73 per cent violent clashes left at least two persons dead. Some reports put the number of deaths in poll-related clashes at three.
Incidents of EVM damage and stone pelting marked the high-octane polling that saw a large number out of the over 3.97 crore eligible voters turning up braving the scorching summer heat.
Polling was simultaneously for 175 Assembly seats featuring 2,118 candidates and 25 Lok Sabha seats having 319 contestants.
The fate of incumbent chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and main opposition YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was sealed as the curtains came down on the first ever general elections after bifurcation of the state to create Telangana in 2014.
An estimated of 80.85 per cent of 34.52 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the two Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal. While 80.11 per cent voters cast their votes in Cooch Behar (SC) constituency, 81.58 per cent polling was recorded in Alipurduar (ST) seat, till 5 pm
Eight persons seven in Coochbehar and one in Alipurduar were arrested as a part of protective measures, ADG (Law and Order) Siddh Nath Gupta said adding that three FIRs were lodged.
One incident of skirmish happened outside a polling station at Dinhata in Coochbehar, while polling was stopped at a booth in Sitalkuchi for some time after the data of mock poll were found not deleted there, he said.
An estimated 53.06 per cent voter turnout was recorded in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Bihar which went to the polls in the first phase on Thursday.
"A total of 53.06 per cent voting was recorded in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui. It was 2.27 per cent higher turnout in these four seats in comparison to 2014 general elections," Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) H R Srinivas said.
"Polling passed off peacefully with sporadic incidents of EVM tampering, attempt to loot booths after which the police had to resort to firing in the open to disperse and control the anti-social elements," CEO said.
About 64 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 6 pm on Thursday in eight Lok Sabha constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh that went to polls in the first phase. Estimating an average voter turnout of 63.69 per cent, the poll officials said the percentage is likely to increase a little as it was still an hour left for the voting.
Three Union ministers - VK Singh (Ghaziabad), Satyapal Singh (Baghpat) and Mahesh Sharma (Gautam Buddha Nagar) -- are in the fray in the first leg of the seven-phase polls. The BJP had won all the eight seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but lost Kairana seat in a by-poll held later.
The BJP is facing the newly-formed SP-BSP-RLD alliance. In Muzaffarnagar, RLD chief Ajit Singh took on BJP's Sanjeev Balyan, while his son Jayant Chaudhary was pitted against Union minister Satyapal Singh in Baghpat.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir recorded an overall turnout of over 55 per cent in the Jammu and Baramulla constituencies, even as there were protests over defective EVMs in some areas.
The overall turnout was 55-56 per cent, with the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency recording 72.19 per cent polling and Baramulla registering 35.01 per cent.
Altogether 57 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the naxal-affected Bastar Lok Sabha constituency of Chhattisgarh.
Voting which began at 7 am, ended in four Assembly segments -- Dantewada, Konta, Bijapur and Narayanpur -- at 3 pm, while in the other four segments -- Bastar, Chitrakot, Kondagaon and Jagdalpur -- it ended at 5 pm.
55.78 per cent voters exercised their franchise in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra. Polling began at 7 am and ended at 5 pm in all the seven seats.
A total of 116 candidates were in the fray in these seven seats, which were once a Congress bastion. As many as 1,33,00,978 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the seven Lok Sabha seats.
Naxal-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha seat witnessed an impressive 61.33 per cent voter turn-out, while 60.50 per cent electorate exercised the franchise in Bhandara-Gondiya.
Chandrapur recorded 55.97 per cent polling, followed by 55.36 per cent in Wardha, 53.97 per cent in Yavatmal- Washim, 53.13 per cent in Nagpur and 51.72 per cent in Ramtek (SC) seat.
Prominent candidates in these constituencies were Union ministers and senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur) and Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur).
Naxals triggered an IED blast near a polling booth in Maharashtra's Gadchroli district while voting was underway, police said. There were no casualties, a police official said.
Glitches in EVMs were reported at some places, an official said.
An estimated 61 per cent of voters cast their ballot in Telangana.
All the 17 segments, including Nizamabad that saw over 170 farmers contesting demanding remunerative price for their produce, went to polls in the single phase and till 5 pm, 60.57 per cent voting was recorded.
Brisk polling was recorded in Odisha with around 70 per cent of the over 60 lakh electorate casting their votes in four Lok Sabha and 28 Assembly constituencies.
Assam – 68 per cent, Sikkim – 74 per cent, Manipur – 78.20 per cent, Meghalaya – 67 per cent, Mizoram – 61.29 per cent, Nagaland – 78.76 per cent, Tripura – 77.6 per cent
Around 73 per cent of over three lakh voters in the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands exercised their franchise. In Lakshadweep, the voter turnout was recorded at 66 per cent.