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60 pc voter turnout in first phase of India polls

60 pc voter turnout in first phase of India polls

International Desk

The massive exercise to elect the 18th Lok Sabha in India started on Friday with elections on 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories. By the end of Phase 1, around 60.03% people voted. Sporadic violence was reported from Manipur and West Bengal.

Poll body Election Commission, which is conducting the seven-phase exercise over the next 43 days, said in a statement, "The Election Commission is working strenuously to ensure a smooth, transparent, and inclusive electoral process in the subsequent phases of General Elections 2024."

Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, two states which also elected their assemblies today, recorded 68% and 68.3% turnout. In 2019, 81.4% people voted in Sikkim, 65.1% in Arunachal Pradesh.

Tamil Nadu, one of the rare states that had a single-day election, saw 62.3% voting, down from 72.4% in 2019. Rajasthan, which along with Tamil Nadu accounts for half of the 102 seats that went to polls today, recorded 50.9% voting -- down from 64%.

At 7pm, Uttar Pradesh recorded 57.6% voting and Madhya Pradesh 63.3%. One of the biggest turnouts, 77.57%, was recorded in West Bengal, where the BJP is hoping to close the gap with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. In 2019, the BJP won 18 of the state's 42 seats.

The BJP-dominated northeastern states saw high turnout -- Assam 71.3%, Meghalaya 70.2%, Manipur 68.6%, Arunachal Pradesh 65.4% and tiny Tripura a whopping 79.9%.

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress and BJP workers clashed in Cooch Behar and accused each other of violence, intimidating voters and assault on poll agents, news agency PTI reported. The police denied any violence took place.

In Manipur, a burst of gunfire was reported from a polling station in Bishnupur. In Imphal East district, a polling station was vandalised. In Tamil Nadu, two elderly people -- one a 77-year-old woman -- died at polling booths in Salem district.

The BJP, which has been projecting huge confidence about a third consecutive term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had won only 50% of the seats up for grabs today in the last general election. The NDA had won 41 of these seats and the UPA 45. Six of the seats have been redrawn as part of delimitation.

For its target of 370 seats, the BJP is heavily banking on south, Karnataka and especially Tamil Nadu -- where it is yet to open its account -- and Bengal. In an exclusive interview to NDTV today, Union minister and the BJP's chief strategist Amit Shah said PM Modi's popularity "will translate into our best showing in the south."

The Congress, pushed out of much of north India, insists it is on the cusp of a comeback. Senior leader KC Venugopal has said the party will post improved performance in most northern states - including the BJP bastions of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. With assembly poll victories in Telangana and Karnataka, and the alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu, it projects huge confidence about the results in the south.

The counting of votes will be held on 4 June.

Source: NDTV

 

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