Phase 3: Moderate polling recorded amid EVM glitches

New Delhi: Complaints of electronic voting machine malfunctioning poured in from several booths on Tuesday during the third and largest phase of Lok Sabha polls which saw voters turning out in large numbers till afternoon to cast their vote in 116 seats, including all constituencies of Gujarat and Kerala.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and several Union ministers are in the fray in this phase.

As the polling began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote at a booth in Ahmedabad and said the 'voter ID' (identity card) was much more powerful than the 'IED' (improvised explosive device) of terrorists.

BJP president Amit Shah, who is contesting LS polls from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, also cast vote at a polling booth in Ahmedabad.

Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting is underway in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in UP, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.

Voting in Tripura East constituency, which was earlier scheduled for April 18, is also being held, as also in a part of Anantnag LS seat in Jammu and Kashmir, where election is being held in three phases.

Voting is also being held in some Assembly constituencies of Odisha, Gujarat and Goa.

Kerala

An average voter turnout of 38.81 per cent was registered till 1 pm on Tuesday in Kerala as heavy polling was witnessed in the elections to 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam and BJP leader Kummanam Rajashekharan are among the key contenders.

According to Election Commission sources, Kannur recorded the highest voting percentage of 41.8 as of 1 pm while Ponnani the lowest of 33.97 per cent.

Wayanad, from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting, recorded 40.56 per cent votes, Thiruvananthapuram registered 38.19 and Pathnamthitta 40.26 per cent.

Though complaints of technical glitches in voting machines were reported initially in various places, polling continued after the snags were rectified.

Long queues were seen across polling booths since morning, with large number of women, senior citizens and first time voters turning up to exercise their franchise.

Two elderly persons collapsed and died while waiting to cast their votes in polling booths at Vatakara and Pathnamthitta constituencies, while another person, who returned home after voting, complained of uneasiness and died shortly thereafter, police said.

State Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chenntithala of Congress and a host of political leaders and film stars were among the prominent people who cast their franchise so far.

The three major fronts-- Left Democratic Front, United Democratic Front and National Democratic Alliance -- had put up a fierce fight in many constituencies.

A total of 227 candidates are in the fray in the state, including 23 women.

Wayanad constituency has the maximum number of candidates -- 20 and the lowest are in Alathur in Palakkad district (6).

There are a total of 2.61 crore voters -- 1,26,81,992 males, 1,34,64,688 females and 173 third gender voters.

The strength of first time voters in Kerala is 2.88 lakh in the age group of 18-19.

The polling would end at 6 pm in 24,970 polling stations.

This is the first major poll after last year's August floods, the worst in the last 100 years, that claimed over 400 lives and brought to halt the local economy.

The Sabarimala women's entry issue, which was a major poll plank in the state, is also expected to sway the voters.

Maharashtra

An average 35.70 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 1 pm in 14 seats of Maharashtra, an official said.

Polling began at 7 am and long queues were seen outside many booths.

The Kolhapur Lok Sabha constituency reported 42.04 per cent voting till 1 pm, followed by Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, where there was 39.93 per cent polling, according to the state election office.

Besides, Jalgaon recorded 33.12 per cent voting, Raver- 35.15 per cent, Jalna-37.91 per cent, Aurangabad- 35.42 per cent, Raigad-38.74 per cent, Pune-27.17 per cent, Baramati- 35.58 per cent, Ahmednagar-34.73 per cent, Madha- 33.41 per cent, Sangli- 34.56 per cent, Satara-34.84 per cent and Hatkanangale-39.68 per cent.

State BJP president Raosaheb Danve (Jalna) and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule (Baramati) are among the prominent candidates in the fray.

Jammu and Kashmir

Less than five per cent of the 5.30 lakh electorate of Anantnag district in the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency of Jammu and Kashmir exercised their franchise in the first four hours of polling Tuesday.

The overall poll percentage in Anantnag at 11 am was 4.79 per cent, an official spokesman said in Srinagar.

Nearly three per cent voting was recorded in the first two hours, he said.

Polling will end at 4 pm, instead of the usual 6.00 pm, following a request by police.

The polling so far has been peaceful in the militancy-infested district, police officials said.

Polling in the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency will be held in three legs.

Gujarat

Nearly 50.32 per cent of the total 4.51 crore voters exercised their franchise till 3 pm in Gujarat where polling was underway in all 26 Lok Sabha seats of the state.

There were complaints of technical glitches in EVMs at some booths, an election official said.

The polling, which began at 7 am, was going on peacefully, he said, adding that no untoward incident was reported so far.

Till 3 pm, an average 50.32 per cent polling was recorded, he said.

Braving the scorching heat, people from all walks of life were coming out to exercise their democratic right as long queues were seen outside several polling booths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, party veteran L K Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel cast their votes in the state.

Shah urged people to come out in large numbers to vote during this ‘festival of democracy’.

State additional chief electoral officer Ashok Manek said some EVMs were replaced after complaints of technical problems.

"The EVM machines malfunctioned in some parts of the state. We quickly replaced them and the voting process was not affected," he said.

A detailed report on faulty EVMs will be released after the polling ends in the evening, he added.

Karnataka

Karnataka registered 36.61 per cent voter turnout during the first half of second phase of polling for the remaining 14 out of total 28 Lok Sabha constituencies on Tuesday.

The highest turnout was recorded in Shimogga with 41.66 per cent and the lowest in Gulbarga with 30.48 per cent till 1 pm, poll officials said.

Interestingly, both Shimogga and Gulbarga are high profile constituencies.

In Shimogga, former Chief Minister and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa's son B Y Raghavendra is pitted against another former Chief Minister S Bangarappa's son Madhu of Janata Dal-Secular.

Raghavendra had defeated Madhu during the bypolls held in November last year, and is seeking re-election.

Madhu is the joint candidate of the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance.

In Gulbarga, the battle is between Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge and BJP's Umesh Jadhav.

Jadhav against whom the Congress had moved the assembly speaker seeking his disqualification had quit as Congress MLA ahead of polls and joined the BJP.

This election is said to be a tough one for Kharge, a nine-time MLA and two-term Lok Sabha member who has never tasted electoral defeat.

Voting began at 7 am in 28,022 polling stations that are mostly in the northern belt of the state, covering the entire Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka regions, a couple of central districts and coastal Uttara Kannada.

As many as 2,43,03,279 voters are eligible to choose from among 237 candidates in the fray in the second phase.

Of the 14 constituencies in the second phase, BJP is contesting all the seats while Congress and JD-S, who have an alliance, have fielded their candidates in 12 and 2 constituencies respectively as per the seat sharing arrangement.

The Congress currently has its hold on only 4 out of 14 seats -- Chikkodi, Gulbarga, Bellary, Raichur -- while the BJP has its sitting MPs in 10 seats.

The 14 constituencies in southern part of the state covering old Mysuru region and couple of coastal districts had gone to polls on April 18, recording an overall voter turnout of 68.81 per cent.

Chhattisgarh

Around 30 per cent voter turnout was recorded till noon on Tuesday from seven seats of Chhattisgarh.

Initially, a low turnout was witnessed at the polling booths, but as the voting progressed, people came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise, despite the scorching heat, an election official said.

"Around 30 per cent voting has been recorded till noon," he added.

Voting was underway in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Korba, Janjgir-Champa (SC), Surguja (ST) and Raigarh (ST) amid tight security.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ramvichar Netam, former Assembly speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal and other leaders cast their votes in the state.

As many as 123 candidates are in the fray in the seven seats where the main fight is between the ruling Congress and the BJP, which lost power in last year's state assembly polls.

Altogether 1,27,13,816 voters, including 64,16,252 men, 62,96,992 women and 572 members of the third gender, are eligible to exercise their franchise for which a total 15,408 polling booths have been set up, the official said.

Raipur and Bilaspur seats have the maximum number of candidates (25), followed by Durg-21, Jangir-Champa -- 15, Raigarh -14, Korba-13 and Surguja-10.

Around 60,000 security personnel, including paramilitary and state forces, have been deployed in the state for smooth conduct of voting.

In the 2004, 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls held after the formation of Chhattisgarh, the BJP won 10 out of the 11 seats every time.

This time, the Congress, buoyed by its victory in the assembly elections last year, is hoping to improve its tally in the state.

Voting for the 11 Lok Sabha seats in the state was scheduled in three phases.

The Naxal-hit Bastar (ST) constituency went to polls in the first phase on April 11, while voting in three other seats -- Rajanandgaon, Kanker (ST) and Mahasamund -- was held in the second phase on April 18.

Bihar

An estimated 26 per cent of 89.09 lakh voters exercised their franchise till noon on Tuesday in five Lok Sabha seats in the third phase of polling in Bihar.

Polling is underway in a peaceful manner in Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Araria, Madhepura and Khagaria, though EVM malfunctioning delayed the voting process by an hour in five booths in Khagaria, he said.

Till noon, Araria recorded the highest polling at 30.71 per cent, followed by Supaul at 28.50 per cent, Madhepura at 25 per cent, Jhanjharpur at 23.75 per cent and Khagaria at 23 per cent, according to the information received from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).

Prominent among those who cast their votes included BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain and Bihar Legislative Council Vice Chairman Haroon Rashid in their native district of Supaul.

The electoral fate of 82 candidates, including Sharad Yadav, Bihar minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav, former Bollywood set designer and VIP chief Mukesh Sahni apart from sitting MPs Ranjeet Ranjan, her husband Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, Sarafaraz Alam will be decided in the third phase.

Central para military forces, Bihar Military Police, and Special Auxiliary Police personnel have been deployed outside 9,076 polling stations in the five seats where 57,800 poll personnel have been deputed for conducting the polls.

Goa

Around 46 per cent polling was recorded till 1 pm during elections for two Lok Sabha constituencies and bypolls to three Assembly seats in Goa.

Following complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs at some polling booths, the faulty machines were replaced, an election official said.

Till 1 pm, there was 46.26 per cent voting in North Goa Lok Sabha seat and 43.97 per cent in South Goa, as per official figures.

Besides, in the by-elections underway in three assembly seats, Mandrem so far recorded 45.95 per cent voter turnout, Shiroda - 45.86 per cent and Mapusa -47.19 per cent.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his wife were among the early voters.

State Governor Mridula Sinha and her husband also cast their votes in the morning at a polling booth in Dona Paula area near Panaji.

Congress candidate from North Goa Girish Chodankar and BJP nominee Shripad Naik also exercised their franchise early in the day.

In South Goa, Congress candidate Francis Sardinha, BJP nominee Narendra Sawaikar and Shiv Sena candidate Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik were also among the early voters.

The Aam Aadmi Party's contestants, Pradeep Padgaonkar and Elvis Gomes, who are fighting the elections from North Goa and South Goa seats respectively, also exercised their democratic right.

There are 12 candidates in the fray for the two Lok Sabha constituencies and 18 for the three Assembly seats.

The by-elections in Shiroda and Mandrem were necessitated after their sitting Congress MLAs resigned and joined the ruling BJP.

The Mapusa seat fell vacant following the death of its sitting MLA.

Odisha

An estimated 18 per cent of 92.56 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 11 am in six Lok Sabha and 42 assembly constituencies of Odisha, an election official said.

Long queues of voters were seen outside the polling stations, even before the process commenced at 7 am, he said.

All arrangements have been made to ensure hassle-free polling in the six Lok Sabha constituencies -- Puri, Sambalpur, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal -- and the 42 assembly seats that come under them, the poll official said.

"Voting is underway in a peaceful and smooth manner. There has been no untoward incident anywhere, though glitches in EVMs delayed the process in around 60 booths. The snags have been rectified," he added.

The electoral fortunes of 417 candidates, including BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik, will be decided in the third phase of the staggered elections.

Six women were among the 61 hopefuls in the Lok Sabha constituencies. In the assembly segments, 37 of the 356 nominees are women.

Of the 92.56 lakh electorate, 44,56,729 are women and 1,163 belong to the third gender.

Around 60,000 polling personnel have been engaged to conduct the polls in 10,464 booths of the state, where sporadic violence on Sunday left several injured, including an Election Commission (EC) magistrate and a BJD candidate.

A legislator of the ruling Biju Janata Dal has been arrested on the charge of attacking the EC magistrate.

Among the early voters on Tuesday was Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik, who exercised his franchise in a Bhubaneswar booth.

Talking to reporters after exercising his franchise, Patnaik exuded confidence that his party will post an impressive show in the elections.

Other than Sambit Patra and Niranjan Patnaik, prominent candidates in the fray for the third phase include sitting BJD MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Pinaki Mishra, former Mumbai police commissioner and ruling party candidate Arup Patnaik and BJP's Aparajita Sarangi.

Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.

Uttar Pradesh

Braving scorching heat, an estimated 35.49 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 1 pm Tuesday in 10 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh even as EVM snags were reported at some booths.

Prominent leaders in the fray in this phase are four members of SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's clan besides those of senior party leader Azam Khan and actor and BJP candidate Jaya Prada.

The office of the chief electoral officer here said Moradabad witnessed the highest turnout of 39.24 per cent till 1 pm.

There were reports of EVMs malfunctioning in some booths which have been promptly attended to it, the Chief Electoral Officer here said.

A report from Sambhal said there had been reports of EVMs developing a snag in polling booths in Chandausi and Asmoli Vidhan Sabha segments of Aonla Lok Sabha seat.

In Pilibhit, polling at the sensitive polling booth in Kukrikheda started about an hour late because of faulty EVMs.

At the polling booth in Etah Zila Panchayat, voters alleged that presiding office Yogesh Kumar was forcibly getting votes polled in favour of the Samajwadi party following which he was removed.

The Samajwadi Party lodged a complaint against the malfunctioning of EVMs with the commission, terming it as criminal negligence.

The party's sitting MP Dharmendra Yadav, who is seeking re-election from Badaun, had complained against Swami Prasad Maurya, a senior minister in the Yogi government, alleging that he was attempting to influence polling to favour his daughter Sangmitra Maurya, who is a BJP candidate.

A raid carried out by the district administration failed to find him.

The seats where polling is taking place are spread over the Rohilkhand region of the state where the BJP had won seven out of the 10 seats in 2014 and has a huge stake this time.

The three Yadav family members who are seeking re-election rom Mainpuri, Badaun and Firozabad in this phase are Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and his two nephews, Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav.

Pitted against Akshay Yadav, son of Mulayam Singh Yadav's cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, is another brother of the party patriarch, Shivpal Yadav, who has fallen out with SP president Akhilesh Yadav, and fighting from Fiorozabad after floating a new political outfit, Pragateesheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).

In 2014, Mulayam Singh had won both the Mainpuri andAzamgarh seats, but had vacated the first one, which was won by another family member Tej Pratap Singh in the subsequent bye-election.

The electoral fortunes of senior SP leader Azam Khan will also be decided in this phase from Rampur which witnessed a new low in campaigning this time.

The other political heavyweights facing Tuesday's test include Union minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, who is fighting from Bareilly and BJP's Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit.

With a large area of the Rohilkhand region considered a stronghold of Samajwadi Party, the state's trilateral alliance of the SP, BSP and RLD has left no stone unturned in campaigning.

The 10 constituencies going to polls in the third phase are Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etah, Budaun, Aonla, Bareilly and Pilibhit.

A total of 1.76 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in this phase at 20,116 polling booths to decide the fate of 120 candidates in the fray.

Assam

An estimated 28.64 per cent of the total electorate of 74,76,062 cast their vote till 11 am in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam on Tuesday amid reports of EVM malfunctioning in some polling stations, an election official said.

Voters formed long queues at the polling booths since early morning in some places, to exercise their franchise in Dhubri, Kokrajhar (ST), Barpeta and Gauhati parliamentary constituencies.

Women and first-time voters stood outside the booths in large numbers waiting for their turn to vote, he said.

According to the poll official, Dhubri constituency recorded maximum polling till 11 am at 31.54 per cent, followed by Gauhati constituency at 29.47 per cent, Kokrajhar (ST) at 27.20 per cent and Barpeta 25.86 at per cent.

Glitches in EVMs were reported at some places in the four Lok Sabha constituencies and the faulty machines were replaced quickly, the official said.

Former Assam Director General of Police Harekrishna Deka alleged that the VVPAT slip that he received after casting his vote at a polling station in Lachit Nagar L P School had the name of a candidate, different from whom he had voted for.

On Deka's allegation, the election official said the complainant should submit a declaration to this effect to the presiding officer in a specified form and give a test vote to prove the veracity of the declaration.

A total of 74,76,062 electorate -- 38,15,335 male, 36,61,570 women and 157 of the third gender -- are eligible to cast votes in 9,577 booths to seal the fate of 54 candidates.

Prominent among those in the fray are two sitting MPs All India United Democratic Front chief Badruddin Ajmal in Dhubri and Independent Naba Sarania in Kokrajhar -- Bodoland People's Front candidate and state social welfare minister Pramila Rani from Kokrajhar and Congress MLA Abdul Khaleque from Barpeta.

Pramila Rani, Congress candidate Bobbeta Sharma and United People's Party Liberal candidate and former Rajya Sabha member U G Brahma were among the first ones to cast their vote in the morning.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur are scheduled to exercise their franchise later in the day at Dispur Higher Secondary Government School in Gauhati constituency.

West Bengal

An estimated 34.87 per cent of over 80 lakh electorate exercised their franchise till 11 am in five Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal, amid reports of sporadic violence from isolated places of Murshidabad and Balurghat, an election official said.

Barring a few incidents of clashes and bombings, polling has largely been peaceful in the five parliamentary seats -- Balurghat, Maldaha Uttar, Maldaha Dakshin, Jangipur and Murshidabad, he said.

"Three people were injured in two incidents of bombing in Domkal area and adjoining Tiktikipara in Murshidabad. They have been hospitalised and we have a sought a report on the matter from the district magistrate. No one has been arrested or detained so far," the official said.

Bombs were also reportedly hurled outside a booth in Kushmundi area of Balurghat seat, leading to commotion, he said, adding that central forces allegedly lathicharged a mob in Suti area of Jangipur.

The Election Commission has deployed 324 companies of central forces to cover over 92 per cent of the 8,528 polling booths in the five seats, he said.

"Voting in underway in a peaceful manner in the five Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal. There were reports of violence from two places, and we have initiated appropriate measures to take care of all issues," he told PTI.

Altogether 80,23,852 electorate will seal the fate of 61 candidates in the third phase of the staggered elections.

According to the poll official, Jangipur and Murshidabad registered maximum polling till 9am at 17.54 per cent, followed by Balurghat at 17.28 per cent, Maldaha Dakshin at 16.22 per cent.

Maldaha Uttar recorded the lowest voter turnout so far at 16.11 per cent.

Besides general election observers and expenditure observers, the poll panel has for the first time deployed a special police observer and a special observer.

Prominent among those in the Tuesday's fray are sitting MPs and TMC candidates -- Arpita Ghosh from Balurghat, and Mausam Benazir Noor from Maldaha Uttar -- Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit from Jangipur and BJP's Humayun Kabir.

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