Today, on April 18, more states in India went to the polls as part of phase 2 of the Lok Sabha 2019 elections. Voters came out in droves in 95 constituencies across 13 states and union territories, to elect their representatives to the Lok Sabha. The Election Commission said that phase 2 saw a 61.12% voter turnout.
Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Puducherry all went to the polls today.
The entire state of Tamil Nadu has concluded its voting in phase 2. 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha and 18 in Tamil Nadu also voted.
In this phase, several ministers were also up for re-election: Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, Chief Minister of Karnataka D.V. Sadananda Gowda, and Minister of State for the Finance Ministry Pon Radhakrishnan.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, who served for about a year, also ran for elections.
According to the EC, 61.12% of all eligible voters turned out in the second phase of elections as of 5:41 pm. 15.8 crore people voted, including 7.8 crore women and 8.45 lakh disabled people.
West Bengal, Assam, and Manipur had the highest turnouts: 75.27%, 74.69%, and 73.32% respectively.
Puducherry follows closely with 72.40% voter turnout.
Chhattisgarh’s 68.70%, Karnataka’s 61.80%, and Tamil Nadu’s 61.52% ranked in between. Tamil Nadu’s 38 seats and 18 assembly seats were all up for election.
Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh had turnouts that landed between in the high 50s. Bihar got 58.14%, Uttar Pradesh had 58.12%, Odisha had 57.41%, and Maharashtra had 55.37%.
Jammu and Kashmir saw a dismal 43.37% turnout.
Polling in eight constituencies in Vellore was rescinded because the EC found that there was a “systematic design to induce the voters”. NDTV reports that Income tax official seized a large amounts of cash bribes.
In Jammu and Kashmir, people alleged that one of Kathua’s EVMs buttons was malfunctioning and adding more votes for the BJP than intended. Voters here have asked for re-polling, says FirstPost.
The old EVMs versus VVPATs debate has sprung up in this election too as Opposition parties are concerned about tampering during polling.
Voters in West Bengal’s Girpar constituency also alleged unfair interference. Violence erupted there as the police used batons to shoo away protestors who blocked National Highway 34 over claims that they were not being allowed to vote.
Violence in J&K, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Manipur, West Bengal
The EC said that phase 2 was mostly peaceful, except for a few instances of sporadic violence.
In West Bengal, CPIM candidate Mohammad Salim’s car was pelted with stones in the Raiganj constituency. Salim is facing off against Congress’ Deepa Samuni.
Initially, 97 constituencies were supposed to vote in phase 2. However, two constituencies in Tripura east will vote on April 23 in phase 3 of the Lok Sabha elections because law and order needs to be strengthened with additional police forces, said the EC.
In Karnataka, Janata Dal (Secular) and Independent Sumalatha Ambareesh’s supporters clashed after the latter accused the former of violating the model code of conduct by carrying out a roadshow at the polls.
People in Tamil Nadu’s Ambur and Gudiyatham Assembly constituencies were injured after violent scuffles broke out between All India Anna Munnetra Kazhagam (AIAMK) and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).
Some voters in Bihar were injured after security fired shots in the air to calm tensions. The voters alleged that the security personnel was trying to influence their vote.
Following Manipur voters’ complaints about intimidation by militants and destruction of VVPATs and EVMS in Phase 1, the EC ordered re-polling in Phase 2. However, violence erupted again over disputes of proxy voting.
A group of men also broke EVMs and VVPATs again over the argument.
Names of Kashmir pandits have also gone missing from the voter list in Srinagar. These voters agitated against the EC.
Senior and disabled citizens show up for democracy
The EC complimented people with disabilities and senior citizens for coming out to vote. It eve commended the state machinery for working to conduct the second phase.
102-year-old Sargul Bibi showed up to vote in Assam. She has been voting since the 1950s.
108-year-old Dharam Singh also voted in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district. Satya Devi, an 83-year-old woman, also came to the Gandhinagar polling booth in Jammu. She was walking with the help of two CRPF soldiers.
Sumitra Rai, who is 102-years-old, became Sikkim’s most elderly registered voter.
The Chief Electoral Officer Manipur tweeted an image of 100-year-old Wangkheimayum Bhanu who also voted.
Business Today reports that the senior citizen vote could be a game changer in Punjab as there is a 36% increase in registered senior citizen voters.
Disabled voters turned out to vote, as well. Shefali Khar, who is paralysed and arrived in a stretcher, cast her vote in Silchar, Assam.
M Radha, Tamil Nadu’s first transgender woman candidate, also stood for elections. India Today reports that she has tirelessly canvassed for support as an independent candidate facing off against the AIADMK and DMK.
She said that at least one transgender person should be elected to the parliament or Tamil Nadu assembly.
“To the spirit of democracy, the voters came out in large number to cast their vote for their country”, said the EC in a press conference.
Phase 3 of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will be held on April 23.
As many as 115 seats are up for grabs in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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