New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Nearly 26 per cent voter turnout was recorded in polling for 59 seats in the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections till 12 noon on Sunday, with the maximum 32.53 per cent voting in West Bengal.
There were reports of people ransacking a polling booth and holding an official hostage in Bihar, as well as sporadic violence in West Bengal.
Polling is taking place in the remaining eight constituencies in Bihar, three constituencies in Jharkhand, eight in Madhya Pradesh, 13 in Uttar Pradesh, nine in West Bengal and all the four constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, 13 in Punjab and the lone seat of Union Territory Chandigarh.
Over 10.1 crore voters are deciding the fate of 918 candidates, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the last phase of polling today.
Punjab registered 23.45 per cent voting, Bihar 25.25 per cent, Himachal Pradesh 28.20 per cent voting, Madhya Pradesh 29.72 per cent, Jharkhand 31.39 per cent and Chandigarh 22.30 per cent. The overall voting percentage was 25.59 per cent, according to the Election Commission (EC) data.
Voting began at over 1.12 lakh polling stations across the seven states and a union territory at 7 a.m.
According to election officials, angry voters ransacked the polling booth in Nalanda in Bihar and held the Block Development Officer hostage. The officer was freed after police intervention. No voting took place at the booth.
Glitches in Electronic Voting Machines were also reported from the eight constituencies, leading to delay in the poll process in a few booths.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and former Chief Ministers Jitan Ram Manjhi and Rabri Devi voted in Patna.
Other prominent faces who voted in the state capital, include Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Congress candidate from Patna Sahib Shatrughan Sinha and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti.
Sinha was accompanied by his wife Poonam and his two sons, Luv and Kush.
West Bengal reported a few incidents of sporadic violence and reports of EVM failures in several booths leading to either delay or stalling of the poll process.
Long queues of voters were seen outside polling booths in Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North constituencies.
“EVM failure has been reported from across constituencies and requisite actions are being taken,” said the Election Commission official.
As of 9 a.m., the voter turnout was the highest in Jadavpur (17.11 per cent) followed by Dum Dum (16.57), Mathurapur (15.68), Basirhat (15.67), Barasat (14.78), Diamond Harbour (13.32), Kolkata South (11.92), Jaynagar (11.43) and Kolkata North (11.08 per cent).
Jharkhand recorded 30.33 per cent polling till 11 a.m. for its three Lok Sabha seats — Godda, Rajmahal and Dumka. Rajmahal and Dumka are reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes (ST). Voting began at 7 a.m. in 6,258 polling booths and will end at 4 p.m.
Uttar Pradesh recorded 12.18 per cent voter turnout till 11 a.m. in Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Balia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj constituencies. Polling in the state will end at 6 p.m.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is re-contesting from state’s Varanasi seat. Besides Modi, 25 other candidates are in fray from Varanasi. Modi’s main challengers are Congress’ Ajay Rai and SP-BSP’s joint candidate Shalini Yadav.
In Himachal Pradesh, women turned out in large numbers in the rural areas of the Hamirpur and Kangra parliamentary constituencies.
There were minor hiccups as electronic voting machines developed snags at some places.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, two-time former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and former Union Minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma were among the early voters in the state.
In Punjab, 10 per cent polling was registered in the first three hours but it picked up pace later.