6th phase: Nearly 60% polling, Bengal's Jangal Mahal region logs 78.27%

People wait to cast votes at a polling station during sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls, at Dhangri village in Rajouri district, Saturday, May 25, 2024.
People wait to cast votes at a polling station during sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls, at Dhangri village in Rajouri district, Saturday, May 25, 2024.

New Delhi | An estimated voter turnout of 59.92 per cent was recorded in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Saturday in 58 constituencies across six states and two Union territories with the polling percentage in the Jangal Mahal region of West Bengal touching 78.27.

Incidents of violence, including an alleged assault on a BJP candidate, minor clashes and protests were reported from West Bengal while there were instances of EVM malfunctioning at some places, including Delhi.

Jharkhand recorded a turnout of 63.30 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 54.03 per cent, Bihar 55.24 per cent, Jammu and Kashmir 53.38 per cent, Haryana 59.43 per cent, Odisha 61.44 and Delhi 56.12 per cent, according to the figures updated at 10.30 pm by the EC on its voter turnout app.

The EC said polling percentage in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat in Jammu and Kashmir is the highest in 40 years.

With the conclusion of this phase, polling is now complete in 486 seats in 28 states and Union territories. The last of the seven phases of polling in 57 seats is scheduled on June 1 and counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

With large parts of India sweltering under a heatwave, arrangements for cold water, coolers, fans and tents were made at several polling stations. Wheelchairs were also kept for the assistance of elderly voters.

The EC had directed election officials and state machineries to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather.

Over 11.13 crore voters - 5.84 crore male, 5.29 crore female and 5120 third gender - were eligible to exercise their franchise in this phase. The Election Commission (EC) deployed around 11.4 lakh polling officials at 1.14 lakh polling stations.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat in Jammu and Kashmir, staged a sit-in outside Bijbehara police station on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Anantnag district against alleged detention of her party workers and polling agents. She also claimed outgoing calls on her mobile number were suspended.

Police, however, said those detained were overground workers and the action was taken to ensure smooth conduct of elections.

Mehbooba's daughter and PDP leader Iltija Mufti alleged polling was deliberately slowed down at a booth in the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency, a charge denied by the administration.

In the national capital, President Droupadi Murmu, Union ministers S Jaishankar and Hardeep Singh Puri, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi minister Atishi and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were among those who cast their votes.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat alleged she had to wait for almost an hour to cast her vote as the battery of the EVM control unit at her polling booth "drained out". The District Election Officer later said the battery was replaced within 15 minutes.

Besides all the seven seats of Delhi, polling was held in 14 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, all 10 seats in Haryana, eight seats each in Bihar and West Bengal, six seats in Odisha, four seats in Jharkhand and one seat in Jammu and Kashmir.

Simultaneously, polling was being held for 42 assembly constituencies in Odisha and the Karnal assembly bypoll in Haryana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha elections in large numbers.

In Haryana, BJP's Karnal Lok Sabha seat candidate Manohar Lal Khattar and Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, who is contesting the Karnal assembly bypoll, were among the first to cast their votes at their respective booths.

Saini, accompanied by his family members, cast his vote in his native Mirjapur Majra village in Ambala district's Naraingarh. Khattar exercised his franchise at a polling booth in Karnal's Prem Nagar.

In West Bengal, voting was held in the tribal belt Jangal Mahal region, spanning five districts. A hotspot for identity politics, the region sends eight representatives to Lok Sabha from Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura, and Bishnupur seats. Out of the eight seats, the BJP won five and TMC bagged three in the 2019 polls.

BJP's Jhargram candidate Pranat Tudu claimed his convoy was attacked in Garbeta area of Paschim Medinipur district, following which security personnel escorting him were injured and had to be hospitalised. Tudu also received injuries on his forehead, which needed medical attention.

Minor clashes broke out between supporters of the ruling TMC and BJP in the Ghatal constituency over stopping polling agents from entering the booths.

In the Midnapore constituency, BJP candidate Agnimitra Paul faced "go back" slogans from TMC activists. Subsequently, a scuffle broke out between BJP and TMC activists, following which central forces reached the spot to disperse the mob.

A group of people shouted slogans against BJP candidate and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay when he reached the polling booth in Tamluk.

In Uttar Pradesh, polling was held for Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi seats.

Around 82.16 lakh voters, including 40.09 lakh females, were eligible to exercise their franchise in Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi and Jamshedpur constituencies of Jharkhand.

In a bid to increase polling percentage in urban booths of Ranchi, the district administration tied up with a bike-taxi aggregator to provide free pick-and-drop facilities to voters.

In Bihar, 86 candidates are in the fray in the eight seats of Valmiki Nagar, Pashchim Champaran, Purbi Champaran, Sheohar, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Vaishali.

Officials said 107 people were arrested or detained in the state for causing disruptions and attempting to hinder the voting process. Security forces seized Rs 2.86 crore in cash and 3.53 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 9.46 crore from various locations within the eight seats during the day.

Women wait in queue at a polling station to cast their votes during the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections, at Trilokpuri, in east Delhi, Saturday, May 25, 2024.
Women wait in queue at a polling station to cast their votes during the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections, at Trilokpuri, in east Delhi, Saturday, May 25, 2024.

At 59.06 per cent, phase 6 records lowest voter turnout so far

New Delhi | At 59.06 per cent, the voter turnout in the sixth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls is the lowest among all the phases so far.

The Election Commission (EC) noted that the turnout of 59.06 per cent was as of 7:45 pm on Saturday and a large number of voters were still standing in queues at some polling stations at the prescribed time for the conclusion of voting.

In the sixth phase, 58 seats in eight states and Union territories went to polls on Saturday.

In the 2019 general election, the turnout in the corresponding phase (59 seats across seven states went to polls) was 64.4 per cent.

According to the EC, the voter turnout in the fifth phase of the ongoing polls held on May 20 was recorded at 62.2 per cent.

The turnout in the fourth phase stood at 69.16 per cent, 3.65 percentage points higher than the corresponding phase in the 2019 parliamentary election.

The voter-turnout figure for the third phase of polling was 65.68 per cent. In the third phase of the 2019 election, the turnout was 68.4 per cent.

In the second phase of the 2024 election, the turnout was recorded at 66.71 per cent as against the 69.64 per cent in the second phase of the 2019 polls.

In the first phase of the ongoing general election, a 66.14-per cent turnout was recorded. In the 2019 polls, the turnout in the first phase was 69.43 per cent.

The poll panel has said the final turnout will only be available after the results, with the counting of postal ballots and their addition to the total voting percentage.

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