Mumbai/Chandigarh/New Delhi: Low voter turnout was recorded in Maharashtra and Haryana where voting began at 7am on Monday for the assembly elections. Polling was also held for the byelection to 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states.
EVM glitches were reported in Gurugram as well as Maharashtra. The Congress approached the Election Commission (EC) with over 180 complaints for the same.
Fresh from its Lok Sabha victory, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeks to retain its bastions, Maharashtra and Haryana, while the Opposition hopes to turn the tide by taking advantage of anti-incumbency.
Turnout similar to 2014 in Maharashtra
Maharashtra Assembly elections held on Monday saw a voter turnout of around 63 per cent, almost matching the 63.38 per cent polling recorded in the the last state elections in 2014.
Rural areas of the state fared better, with voters there showing more enthusiasm than their urban counterparts.
Polling began at 7am and ended at 6pm. Altogether 54.53 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 5pm, a poll official said.
A galaxy of bigwigs from politics, Bollywood and India Inc joined the young and the old in exercising their franchise in this festival of democracy.
Prominent voters included RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, CM Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, former President Pratibha Patil and MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
From Shah Rukh Khan to Salman Khan, from Kareena Kapoor Khan to Deepika Padukone, Mumbai's polling booths witnessed several Bollywood celebrities who came out to vote. Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Lara Dutta were among the tinsel town figures who exercised their franchise.
Actor Riteish Deshmukh and wife Genelia cast their vote in Latur district, where Amit and Dheeraj, brothers of Ritesh and sons of former CM late Vilasrao Deshmukh, are contesting as Congress candidates.
A nonagenarian was the cynosure of all eyes as he accompanied Union minister Smriti Irani outside a polling booth in Mumbai. "Today's hero is Khanna sahab, who served in the Army. At 93, he came out to vote. It is an inspiration," Irani said.
In Pune, A 102-year-old man, suffering from a heart ailment, went straight to a polling booth to cast his vote after being discharged from a hospital.
Ibrahim Alim Joad, who, according to his family, has never missed voting since Independence, consulted his doctors before going to vote. "Modi is doing good work and hence my vote goes to him," he said.
The state has total 8,98,39,600 voters, including 1,06,76,013 in the age group of 18 to 25 years. Nearly 6.5 lakh polling personnel were deployed at 96,661 polling booths across the state.
The opposition Congress said it filed over 250 complaints of poll procedure violations with the Election Commission, including one for Ramtek segment where it said if the EVM button was pressed in favour of Congress candidate, the vote was shown to be going to the BJP nominee.
In Gadchiroli district, a 45-year-old teacher posted on election duty died in hospital after fainting while walking towards the voting booth on Monday morning, an official said.
Bapu Pandu Gavade, who was heading to the voting booth with a polling party from Dehari base camp, fainted mid-way in the morning near Pursalgondi village of Etapalli area.
In Pune, a 62-year-old man fainted while standing in the queue outside a polling station in Bhosari constituency and later died of brain hemorrhage in the hospital, police said. Abdul Rahim Shaikh, a resident of Shantinagar, was suffering from cancer for the last one year, police added.
65 per cent turnout in Haryana
Meanwhile, Haryana recorded a turnout of 65 per cent for 90 constituencies in the assembly elections by 6 pm on Monday. The polling that began at 7am and ended at 6pm was largely peaceful, barring a violent incident in Nuh, election officials said.
According to the Election Commission in Delhi, 65 per cent of the registered voters exercised their franchise by 6 pm, when polling closed.
However, people who entered the polling booths before the closing time, would be allowed to cast their vote, officials said.
The final figure will be available when the data is tabulated, officials said.
In the 2014 assembly elections, 76.54 per cent voters in Haryana had exercised their franchise.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the voting percentage was 70.36.
The Election Commission said 1,169 candidates, including 105 women, contested the elections.
The BJP, led by Chief Minister M L Khattar, is aiming at retaining power in Haryana and had set a target of winning 75 seats.
Currently, the BJP has 48 members in the state assembly.
Haryana's Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal said 19,578 polling stations were set up, 13,837 of them in rural areas.
Tight security arrangements were in place with over 75,000 security personnel deployed for the polls, DGP Manoj Yadava said earlier.
Over 1.83 crore voters, including 85 lakh women, were eligible to vote. The figure includes over one lakh service voters and 252 transgenders.
Moderate turnout in bypolls to 51 assembly and 2 Lok Sabha seats
A moderate turnout of nearly 57 per cent was reported on Monday in the bypolls to 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states, while voters braved heavy rains in Kerala where streets were inundated and water entered some polling booths.
Uttar Pradesh saw a low voter turnout of 47.05 per cent in 11 assembly seats. Gangoh in Saharanpur district saw a high of about 60.30 per cent voting while Lucknow Cantonment assembly seat witnessed the lowest at 28.53 per cent in the state.
The overall voting percentage in the bypolls to 51 assembly seats was nearly 56.84 per cent, the Election Commission said while releasing data available till 7 pm, adding that the polling passed off peacefully.
The bypolls to the five assembly constituencies in Kerala were marred by heavy rains, especially in Ernakulam, as voters waded through water-logged roads to exercise their franchise and water seeped into some booths on Monday.
Ernakulam saw a relatively low turnout at 57.67 per cent (tentative at 7pm). The voting percentage was above 60 per cent in the other seats, with the highest in Aroor at 80.26%. The state generally has high polling percentage.
High voter turnout was reported in Khonsa West seat in Arunachal Pradesh (90%), Naxal-hit Chitrakot in Chhattisgarh (74%), Huzurnagar Telangana (84%) and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh (62%) per cent and Shella in Meghalaya (84.56%), according to data released by the EC.
Bypolls were held in one seat each in these states.
There was an estimated 75.69 per cent voting in four assembly seats in Assam. The figure was 49.50 per cent in Bihar, where bypolls were held in five assembly seats and Samatipur Lok Sabha seat. The turnout was over 60 per cent in the bypolls to Satara Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra.
In the other northern states, Himachal Pradesh saw an average turnout of nearly 70 per cent in Pachhad and Dharamshala seats while the figure was 60 per cent in the bypolls to four Punjab assembly seats -- Phagwara (reserve), Jalalabad, Dakha and Mukerian. There was 66 per cent voting Mandawa and Khivsar Assembly constituencies in Rajasthan.
A moderate 51 per cent average voter turnout had been registered in six Assembly seats in Gujarat.
Final polling figures were yet to be collated, election officials said.
The AIADMK and DMK were locked in a keen contest in Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly seats in Tami Nadu where a turnout of 84.36 per cent and 66.10 per cent respectively was recorded.
Congress MP H Vasanthakumar was detained for allegedly staying in Nanguneri assembly constituency when polling was underway.
There was nearly 70 per cent polling in Kamraj Nagar in Puducherry.
The BJP and its allies had nearly 30 of these assembly seats, while the Congress had won 12 and the rest were with regional parties.
In Sikkim, where Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang contested from Poklok Kamrang constitueny, an average turnout of 70 per cent was recorded in three seats. Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia is in the fray from Gangtok on Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) ticket.
Counting of votes will be on October 24.
The Election Commission had earlier announced bypolls to 15 assembly seats in Karnataka too. But they will be now be held in December.