62.84 per cent polling in 'peaceful' fourth phase, enthusiastic voters in Srinagar inch close to record

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) An approximate voter turnout of 62.84 per cent, as of 8 p.m., was recorded in the largely peaceful polling on Monday for the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections covering 96 constituencies across 10 states and one UT, with West Bengal (8 seats) logging the highest polling at 75.94 per cent and Jammu and Kashmir (1 seat), the lowest at 36.58 per cent, the Election Commission said.

However, the polling in the Srinagar constituency of J&K - its first election since the abrogation of Article 370 - was the highest since the 40.94 per cent turnout recorded in 1996.

The weather was largely conducive, with no marked heat wave-like conditions, leading to an enthusiastic response from the voters, young and old.

Madhya Pradesh, where 8 seats went to the polls in the state's final phase, recorded a 68.63 per cent turnout, while Andhra Pradesh, where simultaneous polls to the state's 25 parliamentary constituencies and 175 Assembly seats were held, recorded 68.12 per cent turnout, which is set to increase as voting was on at a few booths even at 9 p.m.

Of the other states, Odisha (4 seats) recorded 63.85 per cent polling, Jharkhand (4 seats) 63.37 per cent, Telangana (all 17 seats) 61.39 per cent, Uttar Pradesh (13 seats) 57.88 per cent, Bihar (5 seats) 55.90 per cent, and Maharashtra (11 seats) 52.75 per cent.

Polling also commenced for the Odisha Assembly elections with voting for 28 out of the 147 seats in the first of the state's four phases.

Sporadic incidents of violence, including the incident of a YSRCP MLA allegedly slapping a voter who hit back at the legislator, and clashes between supporters of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) marred the polling at some places in Andhra Pradesh.

Incidents of poll-related violence were reported from West Bengal too, including an attack on the convoy of the BJP candidate from Bardhaman-Durgapur, Dilip Ghosh, at Kalna in East Burdwan district.

A total of 17.7 crore electors (8.97 crore male, 8.73 crore female) were eligible to decide the electoral fortunes of 1,717 candidates in the fray for the fourth phase.

Prominent among them were Union Ministers Arjun Munda (Khunti-ST, Jharkhand), Nityanand Rai (Ujiarpur, Bihar), and Ajay Mishra Teni (Kheri, Uttar Pradesh), Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, who faced former cricketer Yusuf Pathan (Trinamool Congress) in West Bengal's Baharampur, and filmstar-turned politician Shatrughan Singh of the Trinamool in West Bengal's Asansol.

The other key battlegrounds included Hyderabad, witnessing a significant showdown between the BJP's Madhavi Latha and sitting MP Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM, West Bengal's Krishnanagar, where expelled Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra faced the BJP's Amrita Roy, and Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj, where Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav challenged sitting BJP MP Subrat Pathak.

In Mahashtra's Beed, BJP's Pankaja Munde, fielded in place of sitting MP and younger sister Pritam Munde, faced NCP-SP's candidate Bajrang Sonawane, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Y.S. Sharmila took on cousin and sitting MP Avinash Reddy in Kadapa, while in Madhya Pradesh's Ratlam, veteran tribal leader and former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria (Congress) was pitted against BJP's Anita Chouhan, the wife of state Minister Nagar Singh Chouhan.

With this phase, elections to decide 379 MPs are over and polling has concluded in 23 states/UTs, including the entire south India and Madhya Pradesh.


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