Yesterday, April 18, 2019, around fifteen crore voters in 95 constituencies of 11 States and 1 Union Territory were expected to cast their vote to choose their new parliamentary representatives. Hema Malini, Raj Babbar, Kanimozhi, Karti Chidambram, Tejaswi Surya and Deepa Dasmunsi are some prominent leaders in the poll fray from these respective constituencies.
Tamil star Rajinikanth, and former union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde were some of the early birds to cast their vote. There was a minor glitch in the VVPAT at an Assam polling booth. Earlier too, Silchar polling booth no. 200 had some problems. However, the problem was swiftly resolved. Technical problems were also encountered in Agra and Chennai.
Solapur in Maharashtra witnessed a fierce tug of war in a three-way fight between Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of BR Ambedkar, against former cabinet minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, and BJP’s Jai Siddheshwar Swami. In Tamil Nadu too, key political leaders cast their vote. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cast her vote at Jayanagar’s polling booth. Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palanisamy also cast his vote in a Selam polling station. Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy too voted at a polling station. In Tamil Nadu, along with 38 Lok Sabha seats, 18 Assembly seats are also going for elections. This is crucial, as this will decide the future of the state.
In Karnataka, it is a major test of the ruling coalition of Congress and JD (S) as BJP looks strong here. 14 out of 28 constituencies went for the polls here.
In Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, voter turnout was low. It is a triangular contest between Farooq Abdullah from National Conference, Khalid Jehangir from BJP, and Aga Syed Mohsin from PDP. The main agenda of the voters here includes article 370 and 35A. In the BJP stronghold of Udhampur. Jitendra Singh (a union minister) is contesting elections against Vikramaditya Singh from Congress, Tilak Raj Bhagat from BSP, and Meenakshi from Shivsena. Here the voter turnout was better as compared to the Srinagar constituency.
By 11 a.m., reports came that polling had been temporarily discontinued in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The police had carried out lathi charge, and voting was suspended. The highways were jammed by people. Elsewhere, as the day wore on, voting had been stopped in the light of technical problems in EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) in Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Assam. A polling agent also died of a heart attack while on duty in Chhattisgarh. A 95-year-old man collapsed and died in Odisha waiting in the line to cast his vote. This incident took place at the Aska Lok Sabha seat’s Kansamari booth.
Fake voting was alleged by BJP candidate Kanwar Singh Tanwar in Amroha. He alleged that some burqa-clad women got clearance without being asked for their identity in his constituency. Bihar recorded a total voter turnout of 25.6% by 12 p.m.. Some of its prominent constituencies had seen about one-fourth of the total eligible voters by noon. Bhagalpur recorded 23%, Banka 28.3%, Punrea 25.5%, Kishanganj 26.2%, and Katihar 25%. For the 3 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh, more than 47% voter turnout was recorded amid tight security till 1 p.m.. The polling began at 7 a.m. in Mahasamund, Rajnandgaon, and Kanker Lok Sabha seats. The turnout was considered good in the light of the Naxal threat.
Violence was reported from many places in West Bengal. A party candidate was attacked. Even stones were pelted at one candidate of CPM (Mohammad Salim) while he was on his way to vote. Salim is pitted against Congress’ Deepa Dasmunsi. Congress has a stronghold on this seat. Despite numerous incidents, the voter percentage turned out to be considerably good in West Bengal.
While there were deaths, violence, and blasts at or near the polling stations in other places, there’s one city which could boast of peaceful polling. Chennai City Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan claimed that voting had been incident free throughout until the afternoon. The voter turnout by 3 p.m. had revealed that Karnataka recorded 49.26% of voter turnout and Inner Manipur 67.5%. Meanwhile, Raman Singh, former CM of Chhattisgarh, along with his family, cast his vote for the parliamentary constituency of Rajnandgaon. Earlier an IED blast had occurred in Chhattisgarh, but the turnout was good in the state despite it.
More than 76.93 lakh people had voted in Odisha by 3 p.m.. However, due to some issues, re-polling was demanded in 4 booths. There were some Naxal affected areas as well. Manipur had also recorded a high voter turnout by 3 p.m.
By 5 p.m., the voter turnout was recorded to be 63.73% in Tamil Nadu. The parliamentary constituency of Kanyakumari recorded 55.07%. The highest polling percentage was recorded by P. Chidambaram’s Lok Sabha seat – 70.73%. Meanwhile, 61.84% voter turnout had been recorded in Karnataka by 5 p.m. Assam had scored even higher with 73.32% voter turnout.
Hence, by and large, the voting was peaceful in phase 2 of the 2019 general elections, and mirrored the state wise voting pattern as observed in 2014 polls. Assam and Bihar saw the highest voter turnout in percentage terms, while Jammu & Kashmir lagged behind with the lowest voter turnout in this phase.