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Friday, May 8, 2009

57 per cent polling in Phase IV

President Pratibha Patil after casting her vote at the Rashtrapati Bhavan polling booth on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: About 57 per cent of the 9.46 crore voters exercised their franchise when Phase IV poll was held on Thursday in 85 Lok Sabha constituencies in seven States and the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Six deaths were reported – one in Rajasthan in police firing, three in West Bengal in group clashes/hurling of bombs and another two in West Bengal due to sunstroke, as the victims were waiting to cast their vote.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin B. Chawla told The Hindu that he was “quite satisfied” with Thursday’s poll as it was “by and large peaceful barring a few stray incidents of violence in West Bengal.” In that State, where polling was held in 17 constituencies, the turnout was “large” (about 75%). In Jammu and Kashmir where the Srinagar constituency went to the polls, there was a low turnout (around 24%), he said.

In J and K the polling this time was better. In 2004, it was 18.57 per cent and in the 1999 Lok Sabha poll, it was 11.93 per cent. Separatists had given a poll boycott call in the State.

In Delhi, where many of the VVIPs including President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Congress president Sonia Gandhi voted, the polling percentage was around 50. Seven constituencies went to the polls here.

Besides police firing and violence, snatching and damaging of electronic voting machines in West Bengal and Punjab, two incidents of rigging in the Agra constituency in Uttar Pradesh and one such complaint in Rajasthan, 22 incidents of poll boycott in Bihar and a few similar cases in Haryana were reported.

This phase covered Haryana in 10 constituencies, Rajasthan 25, Punjab 4, West Bengal 17, Bihar 3, Jammu and Kashmir 1, U.P. 18 and the NCT of Delhi 7.

Bihar recorded a turnout of 37 per cent. It was 63 in Haryana, 65 in Punjab, and 50 each in Rajasthan and U.P.

In Rajasthan, one person was killed and another injured in firing by the security personnel on a mob that tried to capture a booth at Olwara village in Sawaimadhopur district.

In West Bengal 28-year-old CPI(M) cadre Kashinath Mondal was killed when unidentified persons hurled bombs at him as he was returning after casting his vote at Eroali village in the Jangipur constituency in Murshidabad district. Another person was injured in the incident. Two others were killed in similar bomb throwing incidents during a clash between two political parties in the Asansol constituency.

With this phase, polling has been completed in 457 of the 543 constituencies and an average of about 55.5 voters have cast their votes. Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, and parts of Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and U.P. are the remaining States/Union Territories where polling is due. The final and Phase V poll on May 13 (Wednesday) will cover 86 constituencies and all the results are expected on May 16.

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