M A I N   N E W S

55 pc cast votes in third phase
Anantnag has lowest turnout
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Barring stray incidents of violence, in which three persons were killed, voting in the third phase of polling passed of largely peacefully with an estimated 50 to 55 per cent of the 10.72 crore electorate exercising their franchise in seven states for 83 Lok Sabha seats.

While Nagaland registered a high turnout of 75 to 80 per cent, Anantnag seat in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed only 16 per cent polling. This parliamentary constituency in the strife torn state had witnessed 33.56 per cent polling in 1999 polls.

The poll percentage in Anantnag is one of the lowest in this round of polling to constitute the 14th Lok Sabha.

In the prestigious Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, where Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is contesting, registered 47 to 50 per cent polling, much less than the national average.

Lucknow had registered 48.11 per cent polling in 1999 general election, indicating that there had not been huge voter turnout in this constituency.

This constituency also did not witness any major incident of violence, although days before Mr Vajpayee filed his nomination, 22 women and children were killed in saree stampede incident.

The Election Commission, which had issued show cause notice to the BJP and ordered filing of an FIR against Union Minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh for the incident, said it is studying the reply sent by the BJP and take a decision on the issue at an appropriate time.

The turnout in Rajasthan was 52 to 55 per cent, in Madhya Pradesh 50 to 55 per cent, Uttar Pradesh 50, Bihar 45 to 50 and Arunachal Pradesh 37, the Election Commission said, adding by and large the polling was peaceful barring stray incidents of violence.

The penultimate round of polls decided the electoral fate of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Lucknow), UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri), Union Ministers Murli Manohar Joshi (Allahabad), Shahnawaz Hussain (Kishanganj, Bihar), Digvijay Singh (Banka), Prahlad Patel and Congress veteran Kamalnath (Chhindwara), Sharad Yadav and RJD chief Laloo Yadav (Madhepura).

As many as 921 candidates, including 64 women, were in the fray for the third phase which covered 30 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 25 seats in Rajasthan, 12 out of 29 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, the last 12 of 40 seats in Bihar, one each in J and K and Nagaland and two in Arunachal Pradesh.

Today’s election completed the polling in Bihar, Rajasthan, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. While polling so far has covered 278 constituencies, the last phase on May 10 will cover 183 constituencies in 16 states and Union Territories as also the 32-member Sikkim state Assembly. Counting of votes will be taken up on May 13.

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