Voting underway in seven states, grenade attack in Kashmir, EVM snags reported

NEW DELHI: A grenade attack on a polling booth in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, violence in West Bengal and snags in EVMs were reported as voters queued up outside booths in the initial hours of polling on Monday for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections in 51 constituencies spread across seven states.

Political heavyweights Rajnath Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani are in the fray in this phase in which polling is underway in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven seats each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar and four in Jharkhand.

In Jammu and Kashmir, polling began on a violent note with militants lobbing a grenade towards a polling station in Pulwama district, police said.

A grenade was lobbed towards Rohmoo polling station in Pulwama but there were no reports of any casualties in the the blast, a police official said.

Polling is being held in Pulwama and Shopian districts of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency which also includes Anantnag and Kulgam districts.

The Lok Sabha polls to this constituency are being held in three phases due to security reasons.

There are 18 candidates in the fray for Anantnag constituency including PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti.

West Bengal also reported stray incidents of violence in Bangaon, Hooghly and Barrackpore seats, an election official said.

However, further details were awaited.

Around 16.68 per cent of nearly 1.17 crore voters cast their ballots in the first two hours of polling in the seven constituencies of West Bengal.

In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 10 per cent turnout was recorded in the first two hours of polling in 14 Lok Sabha seats where Union ministers Singh and Irani, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are in the fray.

Among early voters in the state capital included Home Minister Singh, BSP supremo Mayawati, Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma and DGP OP Singh.

Election officials in Lucknow said polling was going on smoothly, barring some complaints of EVM malfunctioning, which were attended to immediately.

Polling was underway in Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Mohanlalganj (SC), Lucknow, Banda, Fatehpur, Kaushambi (SC), Barabanki (SC), Faizabad, Bahraich (SC), Kaiserganj and Gonda constituencies where a total of 182 candidates are in the fray.

Rajasthan witnessed over 13 per cent turnout in the first two hours of polling in 12 Lok Sabha seats where two former Olympians are among the 124 candidates in fray.

Polling began at 7 am in Ganganagar, Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Jaipur rural, Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur, Dausa and Nagaur.

In Madhya Pradesh, an average 12.54 per cent turnout was recorded in the first three hours of polling in seven Lok Sabha seats.

Polling was underway since 7 am in the seven

constituencies – Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad and Betul – where long queues were seen at some booths.

“Minor issues related to EVMs were reported at

some places but they were sorted out,” officials said.

Jharkhand saw an estimated 12.22 per cent of the

65,87,028 electorate cast their votes till 9 am on Monday in four Lok Sabha constituencies.

Voters queued up before booths in Koderma, Ranchi, Khunti (ST) and Hazaribag constituencies since early morning to elect their representatives from among 61 contestants.

Bihar saw an estimated 8.92 per cent of over 87.66 lakh voters exercised their franchise during the first two hours of polling in five Lok Sabha seats.

Polling is underway in Sitamarhi, Madhubani,

Muzaffarpur, Saran and Hajipur parliamentary seats amid tight security, with no untoward incident reported from any part of the state, he said.

Barring a few instances of EVM glitches, which was

taken care by polling officials, polling has largely been peaceful in five seats, officials said.

“The voting process was delayed by around 30 minutes in six polling stations of Saran, two in Madhubani, one each in Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur constituency due to technical glitches in EVMs, but the polling officials have attended to the issues,” officials said.

In the fifth phase of the seven-phase poll, about 8.75 crore people will decide the fate of 674 candidates.

The stakes are high for the ruling BJP and its allies as it had swept 40 of these seats in 2014, leaving just two for the Congress and the rest for other opposition parties such as the Trinamool Congress (seven).

With this phase, election will be over in 424 seats and polling in the remaining 118 seats will be held on May 12 and 19.

Election to 542 Lok Sabha seats is being conducted in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Election in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu had been cancelled following excess use of money power.

Results will be declared on May 23. (AGENCIES)