Voters line up at a polling booth in West Bengal. (PTI )
Voters line up at a polling booth in West Bengal. (PTI )

Crucial fifth phase sees 62.56% turnout, West Bengal leads, J&K lags

  • Of the states that went to the polls on Monday, the only one where BJP faced a major resistance in 2014 is West Bengal
  • The heaviest polling was recorded in West Bengal— 73.97%—for seven seats that went to the polls

The fifth phase of general elections covering 51 constituencies concluded on Monday, clocking an overall turnout of 62.56%. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 39 of these 51 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls.

The heaviest polling was recorded in West Bengal— 73.97%—for seven seats that went to the polls, while the lowest was in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency with an 8.76% turnout. This phase completed the election in J&K. Uttar Pradesh saw 57.33% polling for its 14 seats, while Rajasthan recorded 63.75% for its final 12 Lok Sabha seats.

“In the first four phases of 2019 general elections, 5.94 crore more voters have voted in comparison to 2014. At the same time, in 2019, 7.85 crore more electors have increased as compared to 2014 for the first four phases," said deputy election commissioner Sandeep Saxena. “In 2019, voting percentage for the four phases is higher by 1.09% as compared to 2014."

Of the states that went to the polls on Monday, the only one where BJP faced a major resistance in 2014 is West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress under chief minister Mamata Banerjee won six out of seven seats.

“Jharkhand was an extremely challenging phase, but it went off smoothly. In one area, left-wing extremists set ablaze a vehicle, but no one was hurt," said Saxena.

Among the top political battles in the fifth phase is Amethi, where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is being challenged by Union minister Smriti Irani. In Lucknow, Union home minister Rajnath Singh is up against Poonam Sinha, wife of actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who recently left BJP to join the Congress. Poonam Sinha is contesting on a Samajwadi Party ticket with support from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi is contesting from party stronghold Rae Bareli that also went to the polls.

“Voting in the fifth phase went off smoothly and credit must be given to all the security forces, who have done an outstanding job in securing the entire process," said Saxena.

However, voting in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts, which come under Anantnag seat, was marred by violence and witnessed low voter turnout. Suspected militants set two polling stations ablaze in Shopian and hurled grenades in Pulwama. No casualties were reported in either case. The two districts are pivotal not only because of strong militancy, but also because former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti is contesting from the region. Pulwama is significance because of the 14 February suicide attack by terrorists that killed 40 CRPF personnel.

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