New Delhi: Brisk polling was reported from across 12 states in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, which was by and large peaceful barring certain incidents of violence in Naxal-infested Jharkhand.
An executive magistrate Rajendra Prasad and a constable were wounded when Maoists lobbed a bomb at their vehicle near Dadi-Srirampur village in Giridih district in Jharkhand, police sources said.
They were going to their assigned polling station in the district, about 200 kms from Ranchi, they said.
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Elections 2009 (Full Coverage)
In a separate incident, security forces repulsed a Naxalite bid to disrupt polling in Bansdera in east Singhbhum, 165 kms from the Jharkhand capital, after a fierce hour-long gunbattle with the ultras.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Gaur exercised their franchise at a polling station in Guwahati Lok Sabha segment in Assam amid high security.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks to the press after casting his vote at a polling station in Guwahati on Thursday. Reuters photo
Brisk polling was reported from all the 140 constituencies spread across 12 states in the second round of the five-phased elections which would end at 1700 hrs in most places, except in Naxal-infested areas where it would close at 1500 hrs.
While Orissa registered 12% of voting in the initial hours, Assam saw 20%, Andhra Pradesh (12.43%), Karnataka (10%), Jammu and Kashmir (8%), Jharkhand (20%) and Tripura recorded 30%.
Polling staff had difficulty in reaching the booths situated in Maoists pockets in Jharkhand, while faulty EVMs in some places delayed the polling exercise for a while, police sources said.
Polling in four booths under Singhbhum constituency were cancelled after suspected Naxalites burnt down four booths at Jompai in west Singhbhum’s Sonua block.
Voters of a dozen booths in Dumka, Godda and Raj Mahal Lok Sabha seats in the state have decided not to vote in protest against alleged non-development of their areas.
Election to Andhra Pradesh and Orissa state assemblies are being held simultaneously on Thursday.
Over 194 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise on Thursday across 2 lakh polling stations set up by the Election Commission.
Tight security arrangements have been put in place, especially in Naxal-infested states, to thwart any attempt by the ultras to disrupt the elections.
An EVM was stolen before polling began in Cuddapah and at Chandragiri, in Chittoor district, miscreants have destroyed an EVM, officials said, adding that malfunctioning of EVMs was reported at some places and they have been quickly rectified.
Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily were among the early voters who exercised their franchise.
Large number of voters were seen waiting outside the polling stations in Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Prominent among those whose fate will be decided today are Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, NCP chief Sharad Pawar from Madha in Maharashtra, rebel JD(U) leader George Fernandes from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh and LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan from Hajipur in Bihar.
The Andhra assembly elections will decide the fate of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy who is contesting from Pulivendla, his rival and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu from Kuppam and actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi from Tirupati among others.