Complaints of EVM malfunctioning poured in from several booths on Tuesday during the third and largest phase of Lok Sabha polls which saw voters turning out in large numbers till afternoon to cast their vote in 116 seats, including all constituencies of Gujarat and Kerala.
BJP president Amit Shah, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and several Union ministers are in the fray in this phase.
As the polling began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote at a booth in Ahmedabad and said the “voter ID” (identity card) was much more powerful than the “IED” (improvised explosive device) of terrorists.
BJP President Amit Shah, who is contesting LS polls from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, also cast vote at a polling booth in Ahmedabad. Besides all seats in Gujarat (26) and Kerala (20), voting is underway in four seats in Assam, five in Bihar, seven in Chhattisgarh, 14 each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, six in Odisha, 10 in UP, five in West Bengal, two in Goa, and one each in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.
Voting in Tripura East constituency, which was earlier scheduled for April 18, is also being held, as also in a part of Anantnag LS seat in Jammu and Kashmir, where election is being held in three phases. Voting is also being held in some Assembly constituencies of Odisha, Gujarat and Goa.
Though long queues were seen at many booths across the country, voting was yet to pick up in Jammu and Kashmir where less than five per cent of the 5.30 lakh electorate of Anantnag district in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency exercised franchise in the first four hours of polling.
The overall poll percentage in Anantnag at 11.00 am was 4.79 per cent, an official spokesman said. The polling so far has been peaceful in the militancy-infested district, police officials said.
In Kerala, long queues were seen outside polling booths with large number of women, senior citizens and first time voters among those who exercised their franchise.
Kerala recorded 22.24 per cent voting till 11 am in 20 LS constituencies in the state, where Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam are key contenders. The politically volatile Kannur witnessed the highest voting percentage this time-24.53 per cent while Ponnani constituency registered the lowest-19.45 per cent.
The high profile Wayanad constituency, where the AICC chief is seeking mandate, witnessed 23.68 per cent polling so far. Though complaints of technical glitches in voting machines were reported in various places, polling continued after snags were rectified.
In Karnataka, an estimated 20.65 per cent voter turnout has been registered till 11 AM in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies. The highest turnout was recorded in Shimogga with 24.58 per cent and the lowest in Bidar with 17.95 per cent till 11 AM, poll officials said.
In Gujarat, nearly 25 per cent voter turnout was reported in 26 Lok Sabha seats till noon. There were also complaints of technical glitches in the electronic voting machines (EVMS) at some booths, an election official said.
Despite the soaring temperature, long queues were seen outside several booths in the state. State additional chief electoral officer Ashok Manek said some EVMs were replaced after complaints of technical problems.
Chhattisgarh witnessed around 30 per cent voter turnout till noon in seven seats.
In neighbouring Maharashtra, nearly 21.38 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first four hours in 14 seats. The Kolhapur Lok Sabha constituency reported 25.49 per cent voting till 11 am, followed by Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, where there was 24.96 per cent polling, according to the state election office.
An estimated 28.64 per cent voters cast their vote till 11 AM in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam on Tuesday amid reports of EVM malfunctioning in some polling stations.
Voters formed long queues at polling booths since early morning in some places, to exercise their franchise in Dhubri, Kokrajhar (ST), Barpeta and Gauhati parliamentary constituencies.
Former Assam Director General of Police Harekrishna Deka alleged the VVPAT slip that he received after casting vote at a polling station in Lachit Nagar L P School had the name of a candidate, different from whom he had voted for. On Deka’s allegation, the election official said the complainant should submit a declaration to this effect to the presiding officer in a specified form and give a test vote to prove the veracity of the declaration.
In Bihar, an estimated 26 per cent of 89.09 lakh voters exercised their franchise till noon in five Lok Sabha seats.Voting was hampered at two polling stations in Khagaria and three booths in Jhanjharpur due to EVM malfunctioning.
Bracing a sudden rise in mercury, 35.49 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 1 PM in Uttar Pradesh. A report from Sambhal said there were reports of EVMs developing a snag in polling booths in Chandausi and Asmoli vidhan sabha segments of Aonla Lok Sabha seat.
Polling was underway in 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The third phase is crucial as it will decide the fate of the heads of the BJP and Congress — Shah, who replaced L K Advani as party nominee from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, and Gandhi, who is contesting from Wayanad in Kerala besides his traditional Amethi seat in UP.
About 18.56 crore voters are eligible for voting in the third phase of the elections.