April 23, 2019 turned out to be a hectic day, as voters across India came out to choose worthy candidates from their pariamentary constituencies. Polling was held for 117 Lok Sabha seats during Phase 3 of the general elections. The third phase of voting was the largest among all the phases, and witnessed a turnout of 65.71 percent, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI). With this, voting has been completed for 302 of the 543 seats between Phases 1 and 3, and the remaining seats shall be contested between Phases 4 and 7.
The overall voter turnout was slightly lower than in 2014; however, the voter turnout remained moderate to high for most constituencies. Assam reported the highest voter turnout. Below is the table giving voter turnout data in 2019 and its comparison to 2014.
|States/Union Territories||Voter Turnout in 2019||Voter Turnout in 2014|
|Dadra & Nagar Haveli||79.6%||84.1%%|
|Daman & Diu||71.8%||78.0%|
Anantnag in J&K recorded the lowest voter turnout and the overall figures for J&K continued to be low. On the other hand, traditionally high voting states like Assam and West Bengal continued the trend, though both states recorded a lower turnout than in 2014. Both the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli recorded relatively larger drops in voter turnout in 2019 compared to 2014.
Large developed states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Karnataka have traditionally recorded lower voter turnouts, as compared to smaller and lesser developed states. This year is no exception. Other large states in terms of seat representation, such as U.P and Bihar, recorded relatively low voter turnouts along traditional lines. Both states remained at the same level of turnout as earlier.
J&K, and namely six assembly segments in Anantnag, remain a concern, with voters not availing the opportunity to have their voice heard in Parliament. It’s the only constituency in the country which is conducting polls in three phases. In a tragic twist, an accident was also reported from Kokernag, part of Anantnag district, of a bus falling into a gorge. One policeman was killed, and five poll personnel reported injured, along with several other security personnel traveling in the bus.
Reports also emerged of 821 voters in one of the polling booths in Baksa district, Assam, boycotting the polls. They were protesting lack of, or poor implementation of, various government schemes in their areas.
Sporadic incidents of clashes were reported from West Bengal. According to reports, clashes occurred at some booths in Malda and Murshidabad constituencies between workers of TMC, Congress, and BJP. One TMC worker was reported killed and some injured.
PM casts his vote; steps out to meet people
Yesterday’s major highlight was the Prime Minister casting his vote in Ahmedabad. The casting of vote somehow turned into a media event and was broadcast widely. Post his vote, the PM moved with his large entourage in an open jeep, and also stepped out and walked on the road, meeting people lined along the street to get a glimpse of him.
The Congress party has taken objection to this, calling it a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and has filed a complaint with the ECI. The ECI has sought a report from poll officials.
The ECI is also looking into a complaint received against Amit Shah’s speech made at a rally in Krishna Nagar, West Bengal, where he has allegedly spoken of PM sending “his Air Force” for conducting strikes against Pakistan.
Meanwhile, acting on a complaint received from BJP, the ECI is looking into transcripts of public speeches and statements of Rahul Gandhi, to spot any poll conduct violations. In this way, the ECI has been trying to maintain neutrality to allay any accusations of partiality towards any political party.
Phase 4 of polling will be held on Monday, April 29, 2019. The results will be announced on May 23, 2019.