On April 29, phase 4 of the Lok Sabha elections 2019 commenced in nine different states. Now, the country is only three more phases away till the results are declared. Voters in Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, headed to the polls to fill 71 seats in the Lok Sabha.
The Election Commission (EC) officially declared a 63.16% voter turnout for this phase of polling. Once again, there were reports of clashes between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and BJP in West Bengal.
By 5:02 pm, although approximately 13 crore people were eligible to vote in this phase, the EC estimated that only half— 50.60%—had showed up to the polls. At 6:09 pm, that percentage had marginally increased to 59.25%.
West Bengal led the turnout rate with 76.47%.
This state has displayed a trend of the similar high turnouts in previous phases, as well. In Phase 1 and phase 2, over 70% of West Bengal’s eligible voters came out to cast their ballots.
In phase 4, four other states also recorded higher turnouts, registering number in the sixties. Madhya Pradesh recorded 65.86%, Odisha 64.05%, Jharkhand 63.40%, and Rajasthan 62.86%.
Three states fell in their mid-fifties in the following order: Bihar with 53.67%, Uttar Pradesh with 53.12%, and Maharashtra with 51.06%.
Jammu and Kashmir came in at the lowest with a 9.79% turnout.
J&K has consistently seen the poorest polling in these past four phases as security threats have dampened enthusiasm for voting. In phase 3, J&K stood at 12.86%, much lower than its phase 2 turnout which was 43.57%. Phase 1 in the state saw a record high of 54.49% this season.
Across the nation, phase 1 saw a 69.45% turnout, phase 2 recorded 69.43%, and phase 3 settled at 62.87%. Hence, phase 4 has seen the lowest turnout this election season.
Violence in West Bengal, Bollywood shines at the polls
The BJP was set to defend itself in the Hindu belt in phase 4 as 45 seats won by the BJP were up for election: 13 in Rajasthan, 12 in UP, eight in Maharashtra, five in Madhya Pradesh, three in Bihar, and one in West Bengal.
In West Bengal, the BJP met with EC officials to accuse the TMC of violence. “Anti-social elements and goons are hampering the process of free and fair polling”, said the BJP according to India Today.
The Biju Janata Dal also lodged a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer in Odisha about “BJP goons” capturing 12 polling booths in Jaipur. The EC has registered an FIR against BJP candidate Babul Supriyo for “trespassing” into a voting booth and physically threatening a polling agent, as well.
The TMC also met with EC officials to discuss firing by Central Forces inside a polling booth in Dubrajpur in the Birbhum constituency. ANI reports that TMC and BJP workers clashed in Birbhum. Women supporters of the TMC came out in a large group wielding bamboo sticks, prompting security forces to intervene.
There were also instances of EVM malfunctions in some booths in Jharkhand and Bihar, but polling there concluded as per usual. NDTV reports that voting machines in West Bengal, Maharashtra, and UP were also dysfunctional.
Bihar’s Begusarai constituency also got some attention as CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar contested and cast his vote. Kumar is most known for his tenure as Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union president during which he was arrested for “sedition, rioting, criminal conspiracy” and then released.
Kumar and his famous “azadi” chant has since emerged as a strong, popular youth slogan supported by many across India. The chant also found its way into the soundtrack of Zoya Akhtar’s film Gully Boy.
Three of six constituencies in the country’s financial capital, Mumbai, went to the polls in phase 4. Voters in Bandra (east and west), Vile Parle, Chandivali, Kalina, and Kurla all headed to the polls.
Among others, several A-list celebrities like Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Vidya Balan, and Priyanka Chopra cast their votes today.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) capitalised on Bombay’s status as ‘Bollywood’ to urge people to exercise their right to vote.
The Lok Sabha elections 2019 are more than halfway over. Phase 5 of a total 7 commences on May 6. 51 constituencies in seven states will head to the polls to elect their representatives.
Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal will line up to vote on that day.
The EC’s model code of conduct will also be in effect and will stay in place until results are declared on May 23.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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