Election 2019 Kicks Off Amid Violence, Glitches: Key Highlights
The first phase of Lok Sabha elections was held on Thursday, 11 April, with polling in 91 seats across as many as 20 states and union territories.
The Election Commission announced the voting percentages in the evening, adding that the numbers are expected to go up.
The first phase saw incidents of violence where at least four people, including a Naxal, were killed. Reports of technical glitches and missing names from the voters’ list also emerged.
An IED blast by suspected Naxals also took place near a polling booth in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district.
Multiple reports of people not finding their names in the voters’ list cropped up too, with Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Shobana Kamineni and Maruti Suzuki CEO RC Bhargava making such complaints. Addressing the media, EC also said that 15 incidents of EVM damage came to their knowledge.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter and tagged people who claimed their names or the names of their relatives have been deleted from voters’ lists.
Four States in Hindi Heartland Went to Polls
Eighteen constituencies across the Hindi heartland – including those in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh – voted in the first phase.
Eight constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, which voted in the first phase of Lok Sabha election, recorded an overall 63.69 percent voter turnout till 6 pm on Thursday, 11 April.
Four constituencies of Bihar recorded 50 percent turnout till 5 pm, while 57.85 percent voter turnout was recorded in the five constituencies of Uttarakhand till 5 pm, in the first phase of polling.
Chhattisgarh’s Bastar recorded 56 percent voter turnout.
Union ministers VK Singh and Mahesh Sharma were in the fray as BJP candidates from Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar respectively.
Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi and LJP leader Chirag Paswan were also contesting in the first phase.
A Naxal was killed and a Special Task Force (STF) jawan suffered injuries in a gun battle in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh, when the extremists attacked a team of security forces out on an area domination-cum-search operation to facilitate polling, news agency PTI reported.
Earlier in the day, reports said that BSF personnel fired shots in the air to deter alleged fake voters from casting their ballot in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana.
Healthy Turnout in North-Eastern States
Fourteen out of the 25 seats in the seven Northeastern states went to polls on Thursday, and witnessed a handsome turnout.
Five constituencies from Assam and two seats each from Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya went to polls, besides one seat each from Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland and Sikkim.
Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh voted for some seats in the state Assembly too.
Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur witnessed 81.80, 62, 78.20 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, Assam recorded 68 percent, Nagaland 78 percent and Mizoram 60 percent turnout.
The Northeast states assume importance as the Congress has almost been wiped out from the region, having a state government only in Mizoram.
Polls Kick off in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha Too
Seven seats in Maharashtra, four in Odisha and two in West Bengal were in contention on Thursday.
Till 5 pm, Maharashtra witnessed 55.78 percent polling while West Bengal and Odisha saw 81 and 66 percent voting, respectively.
In Maharashtra’s Nagpur, Union Minister Gadkari faced Congress candidate and former BJP MP Nana Patole, while his party colleague Hansaraj Ahir is seeking a fourth term from Chandrapur.
Besides, Odisha also voted for 28 Assembly seats. No polling was recorded in 15 booths at Chitrakonda Assembly segment of Malkangiri district in Odisha due to suspected Maoist fear, sources have told The Quint.
Two seats of Jammu and Kashmir saw a 54.49 percent turnout, down from 57.19 percent in 2014. The state also saw protests over defective EVMs in some areas and at least one incident of firing.
The Union territory seats of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep 70.67 and 65.90 percent, respectively.
In Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara, a student identified as Owais Ahmed was killed when security forces fired on a mob which had attacked a polling party, news agency IANS reported.
Twin States Andhra, Telangana Poll Amid Some Controversy
All the Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – 42, to be specific – polled in the first phase of elections.
Till 6 pm, Andhra Pradesh had recorded 73 percent voting, while the figure stood at 61 percent in Telangana, which is facing its first ever Lok Sabha polls.
All 175 seats of the Andhra Pradesh assembly were also voted for on Thursday.
After multiple reports of EVM glitches surfaced, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the Election Commission demanding repoll in around 150 polling stations.
Multiple reports of clashes between TDP and YSRCP workers also emerged from various parts of the state. A TDP worker, identified as Chinta Bhaskar Reddy, and YSRCP worker Pulla Reddy were killed near a polling booth in Anantapur’s Tadipatri constituency.