Incidents of violence in West Bengal and EVM glitches in some areas were reported as 64 per cent turnout was recorded on Monday in 72 constituencies across nine states in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections. In the heartland states, where the BJP had won 30 out of 32 seats in 2014, 62 per cent turnout was recorded in Rajasthan (13 seats), 53.12 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (13 seats) and 65.86 per cent Madhya Pradesh (6 seats).
West Bengal recorded a high turnout at 76.47 in the eight seats though clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured.
In Barabani, BJP candidate from Asansol and Union minister minister Babul Supriyo's vehicle was vandalised allegedly by TMC workers outside a polling station while in Dubrajpur area central security forces personnel reportedly opened fire in the air to disperse irate people who attacked them when they were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones.
An FIR was registered against Supriyo for allegedly getting into an argument with polling officials, an election official said. The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP accused each other of intimidating voters in the state, which has seen violence in all previous three phases despite stepped up central forces’ deployment.
The stakes are high for the BJP which had won 56 of the 72 constituencies in the 2014 polls. About 12.79 crore people were eligible for voting in the phase, which marked the start of polling in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while elections came to an end in Maharashtra and Odisha.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Madhya Pradesh V L Kantha Rao said that during a mock-poll, electronic voting machines (EVMs) were replaced at 207 polling booths as some glitches were found. EVMs were also replaced at 106 polling booths after the voting began.
Polling was peaceful in Rajasthan, with tribal dominated seat of Banswara recording the highest voting percentage at 72.34, followed by Barmer which recorded 72.21 per cent voting, according to state election officials.
Nearly 52 per cent voting was recorded in Maharashtra (17 seats), 64.05 per cent Odisha (6 seats), 53.67 per cent Bihar (five seats) and 63.42 per cent Jharkhand (3 seats), according to data provided by the Election Commission till 6 PM.
In Kulgam district of Anantnag constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, 10.3 per cent polling was recorded, amid isolated incidents of stone pelting. This was the second of the three-phase polling in the sensitive seat.
Billionaires and Bollywood stars lined up outside polling stations along with the common folks in Mumbai, where polling was held in six constituencies. Complaints of technical glitches in EVMs and VVPAT machines in some polling booths were addressed in Maharashtra, an election official said.
Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, the Khan troika of Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, and Deepika Padukone cast their votes in Mumbai. Priyanka Chopra, Rekha, Aamir and wife Kiran Rao were among the early voters.
In Uttar Pradesh, opposition Samajwadi Party's alleged that many EVMs malfunctioned and in Kannauj, from where SP chief Akhislesh Yadav's wife and sitting MP Dimple Yadav is contesting, several party workers were prevented from coming out of their homes to vote.
In Kanpur, BJP workers allegedly tried to barge into a polling booth and clashed with the police. A case has been registered against BJP leader Suresh Awasthi and six others in this connection, Kanpur District Magistrate Vijay Vishwas Pant said.
Shahjahanpur (SC), Kheri, Hardoi (SC), Misrikh (SC), Unnao, Farrukhabad, Etawah (SC), Kannauj, Kanpur, Akbarpur, Jalaun (SC), Jhansi and Hamirpur seats recorded 53.23 per cent polling till 5 pm, an electoral officer said.
Reports were received of EVMs developing snag in Bidhauna area under the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat following which polling remained suspended for over an hour. Complaints of EVM malfunctioning were also reported in Etawah under Auriaya district, with voters claiming they had to wait for hours at polling booths in Tilak Mahavidyalaya, Sahupur, Ajitmal and Dalelnagar to cast their votes.
According to a report from Hardoi, an elderly woman voter complained that the presiding officer at Jamkara booth under Sandila area forcibly pressed the EVM button. The sector magistrate has removed the officer and handed him over to the police who is investigating the matter.
Besides Dimple Yadav, prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be decided in this phase are Dimple Yadav, former Union ministers Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabd) and Sriprakash Jaiswal (Kanpur) of Congress, UP Cabinet minister Satyadev Pachauri (Kanpur) and Sakshi Maharaj of BJP (Unnao)
In Bihar, voting was delayed due to EVM malfunctioning at three polling stations in Munger, two polling stations in Darbhanga and three polling stations in Begusarai, from where CPI's Kanhaiya Kumar and Union Minister Giriraj Singh (BJP) are contesting, due to technical glitches, official sources said.
In Odisha, technical glitches in EVMs delayed polling in 60 booths, but it resumed after the snags were rectified, the official said.
Election to 542 Lok Sabha seats is being conducted in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Election in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu has been cancelled following excess use of money power. Results will be declared on May 23.