57.47 per cent voting in fifth phase of LS polls, Baramulla witnesses record turnout

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS): Voting in the crucial fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls, spanning 49 seats in 8 states/UTs, ended on Friday with an estimated 57.47 per cent polling, spanning from a high of 73 per cent in West Bengal (7 seats) to a lowly 48.88 per cent in Maharashtra (13 seats), though the Bollywood brigade was out in full force.

The figures for the other states/UTs were 67.15 per cent for Ladakh (1 seat), 63 per cent in Jharkhand (3 seats), 60.72 per cent in Odisha (5 seats as well as 35 Assembly seats), 54.49 per cent in J&K (1 seat), 57.79 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (14 seats), and 52.6 per cent in Bihar.

The voting turnout was as of 7.45 p.m., but subject to revision, as according to the Election Commission, there were still voters in queues at the formal closing of polls at 6 p.m

These included various villages in J&K's Baramulla, as per election officials of the UT, who pegged the likely turnout in the seat at nearly 59 per cent, which would be the highest since 1984 in the pre-insurgency era, and the 46.65 per cent recorded in 1996.

Around 9 crore voters, braving the heat in several parts of the country, headed for the polling booths through the day after polls opened at 7 a.m. to decide the fates of 695 candidates.

However, the Election Commission rued that constituencies in cities like Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Lucknow continued the trend of urban apathy as noticed in the 2019 polls.

The fifth phase may have been the smallest in number but contained a large number of high-profile seats from where top Union Ministers, including Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Smriti Irani (Amethi) and leaders of national and regional parties, including Rahul Gandhi (Raebareli), Omar Abdullah (Baramulla), and Chirag Paswan (Hajipur) were contesting.

Other key contests were in Kalyan where Shiv Sena's Shrikant Shinde, son of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, is in the fray, UP's Kaiserganj, where sitting BJP MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh stood aside for his son Karan Bhushan Singh.

In Bihar's Saran, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter Rohini Acharya is facing BJP candidate and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, while in West Bengal's Hooghly, Trinamool Congress candidate and actress Rachna Banerjee is up against actress-turned-politician Locket Chatterjee of the BJP.

With the end of the fifth phase, polling has been completed in 428 Lok Sabha seats across 25 states/UTs with Maharashtra and Ladakh joining those where the poll process has concluded.

The next and penultimate phase, comprising 58 seats, is slated to be held on May 25, with Haryana and Delhi joining in for a single-phase polling.