With the end of Phase 3, voting is official complete in 303 constituencies out of a total 543 across India. Voters in 14 different states and union territories came out to elect their representatives in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. The EC reports that the overall turnout stands at 62.87%.
There were reports of violence in Anantnag constituency, where less than 13% of voters showed up to cast their votes. West Bengal also witnessed violent clashes between party workers of TMC and BJP.
Phase 3 saw the largest ever deployment of VVPATs across 2,11,158 polling stations. “This has been the largest deployment of VVPATs since its introduction”, said the EC.
As of 6:45 pm this evening, the EC reported a 62.87% voter turnout.
Phase 1 saw a 69.45% turnout, and phase 2 recorded 69.43%. So Phase 3’s voter turnout is the lowest of the three phases conducted until now.
West Bengal and Tripura recorded impressive turnouts of 79.36% and 78.37%, respectively. Assam follows closely with 74.65%.
West Bengal and Assam have continued their trend of the highest turnouts among other polling states. In Phase 2 as well, these states saw voter turnouts higher than 70%.
Other states with high voter turnouts include Kerala with 70.20% and Goa with 71.09%. The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli logged 71.43%.
Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, and Karnataka all noted turnouts in the mid-60s range: 65.08%, 65.34%, and 64.09% respectively.
Although Chattisgarh dipped from its previous 68.70% turnout in phase 2, Karnataka marginally improved from 61.80%.
In the lower range was Bihar with 59.97%, Gujarat with 59.77%, Odisha with 58.18%, and Maharashtra with 56.25%.
All seats in Gujarat, Kerala, Daman and Diu, Goa, and Dadar and Nagar Haveli were up for election. Odisha also conducted assembly elections simultaneously.
Unfortunately, Jammu and Kashmir recorded a low 12.86%. In the previous phase as well, the state saw a low turnout of 43.57%.
Violence in Anantnag, West Bengal
ANI reports that Hilal Ahmad Khan, a poll official in Jammu and Kashmir, died in Kokernag in Anantnag constituency, after the bus he was sitting in rolled over. Khan was not on poll duty, said the EC.
The full constituency list includes Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, and Shopian districts. However, only Anantnag went to polls in phase 3 with less than 13% turnout.
Hindustan Times reports that no votes were cast in the first two hours of polling because this constituency is a breeding round for militant activity. Voting in this constituency will be held in three phases and will end earlier than other states to avoid violence.
On Twitter, Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also responded to a video of a clash between the J&K National Conference (NC) and J&K Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the Bijbehara polling booth in Anantnag constituency.
He said, “Goons of the PDP, frustrated by the poor voter turnout in Mufti hometown, decided to take out their anger on a poor NC worker.” He added that the PDP can sense its imminent defeat and is resorting to violence.
Abdullah even appealed to voters in Anantnag to not “reward death, destruction & deceit of the last 4 years by staying home & boycotting the election.” He endorsed NC candidate Masoodi Hasnain.
In West Bengal, labourer and 18-year-old son attacked
In West Bengal, 56-year-old Tiarul Kalam was hacked to death while going to cast his vote in the Murshidabad constituency. He was caught in between a violent confrontation between BJP and Trinamool workers.
Kalam, a labourer, was with his 18-year-old son, who was a first-time voter. His son says that after Kalam was struck with a sharp, curved knife, his internal organs spilled out.
“Even as I ran, they were trying to stab me and my father. I fell down. The attackers were our neighbours who support the Trinamool. My father’s liver spilled out. I tied a towel around him. We got him into a vehicle to get him to hospital. Even then, the Trinamool men were trying to stab me,” said Kamal’s son, according to NDTV.
Kalam’s brother says he was not associated with a political party. Kamal was rushed to a hospital, but died soon after. The EC has ordered an investigation into the cause of Kamal’s death as party workers are blaming each other.
In Murshidabad’s Domkal constituency, three Trinamool workers were injured after a crude bomb was thrown at them. Tujam Ansari, Masadul Islam, and Mallick Mondal have been admitted to the hospital.
On a lighter note, the Gir Forest polling booth in Junagadh, Gujarat, is set up only for one person. Bharatdas Bapu said, “the government spends money for this polling booth for 1 vote. I’ve voted & its’ 100% voter turnout here.”
Upcoming election dates
Phase 4 begins on Monday, April 29. 71 seats from nine different states will be filled by candidates in Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The EC’s model code of conduct will be in force for this phase, as well, and stay in place till results are declared on May 23.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.