Voting picked up by Thursday (April 18) afternoon in 95 seats across 11 states and Union Territory of Puducherry in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections which were marred by an IED blast by Naxals in Chhattisgarh, police firing in West Bengal on stone pelters and EVM glitches.
Voting was also underway in 35 Assembly constituencies in Odisha and in 18 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.
In Tamil Nadu, polling is being held in 38 of the 39 LS seats. Polling in Vellore LS seat was cancelled on April 16 by the EC following recovery of cash allegedly from an associate of a DMK leader recently.
Besides Tamil Nadu, polling is being held in 14 seats in Karnataka, 10 in Maharashtra, eight in UP, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.
Amidst tight security, polling was underway in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency of Jammu and Kashmir to decide the fate of 10 candidates, including NC president Farooq Abdullah who is seeking a re-election. Security personnel have been deployed in strength in and around polling stations in all three districts – Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal – of the constituency, officials said. Jammu and Kashmir recorded nearly 30 per cent polling till 1 pm in Udhampur and Srinagar Lok Sabha constituencies, poll official said.
Polling in Chhattisgarh witnessed violence with an ITBP jawan suffering minor injuries after Naxals triggered an IED blast in Rajnandgaon district.
Long queues were seen at polling booths in Tamil Nadu where 30.62 per cent voting was recorded till 11am in 38 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state, with Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK chief M K Stalin among the early voters. Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said polling has been peaceful until now and issues like technical glitches in some locations are being addressed.
In Karnataka, an estimated 19.58 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 11 am in 14 constituencies. Puducherry recorded 23 per cent voting till noon for the lone Lok Sabha, which is witnessing a battle between the ruling Congress and opposition AINRC.
Sporadic incidents of violence were reported in some areas of Bengal where around 51.6 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 1 PM in three Lok Sabha constituencies, officials said. A reporter and a camera person of a local news channel were allegedly manhandled when they went to cover polling at Kataphulbari in the Raiganj constituency, they said.
Voters in Uttar Dinajpur districts Chopra under the Raiganj constituency reportedly put up a road blockade, complaining about the absence of central forces at the polling stations, the sources said. Police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas shells to control a mob, after stones were pelted at them and bombs were hurled by unknown persons in Chopra , a senior EC official in the district said.At least three persons were detained by police in this connection, he said.
Meanwhile, CPI(M) candidate from Raiganj Md Salim claimed that his car was attacked by unknown persons when he went to a polling booth at Islampur in Uttar Dinajpur.
Bihar recorded 25.6 per cent voting in five Lok Sabha seats till noon amidst reports of EVM malfunctioning and poll boycott delaying start of polling in some booths. Voting was delayed due to EVM malfunctioning at a polling station at Masuria in Banka town, two polling booths under Kahalgaon assembly segment in Bhagalpur, and another two booths in Purnea.
Poll boycott was reported from a booth under Amarpur assembly segment in Banka, the official said. People also did not cast vote in the initial hours at two polling stations under the same assembly segment as they were protesting killing of a farmer at Kaitha village. The process began only after 10.15 am.
In Odisha, around 18 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first four hours of polling in five Lok Sabha and 35 assembly constituencies.
Maharashtra registered 21.47 per cent voting till 11 am in 10 constituencies where polling was underway. In Nanded, there were complaints of malfunctioning of 78 electronic voting machines (EVMs).
In UP, voting picked up with more than 38 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise till 1 pm in eight parliamentary constituencies. SP president Akhilesh Yadav voiced concern over reports of EVM malfunctions in some parts of the Uttar Pradesh.
In Assam, an estimated 46.42 per cent of over 69 lakh electorate exercised their franchise till 1 pm in five parliamentary constituencies. According to the official, there were reports of EVM glitches in several booths, but the polling personnel have addressed the issues.
A former prime minister and four union ministers are in the fray in this phase of Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP is looking to defend 27 seats. The Congress, besides seeking to defend 12 of the seats it won in 2014 polls and aiming to improve its performance in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha.
Over 15.80 crore voters are eligible to decide the fate of 1,600-odd contestants. Lok Sabha polls are being held in seven-phases for 543 seats on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19, and counting will be on May 23.