M A I N   N E W S

Record 66% overall polling; Voters win last round, too
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, May 12
Curtains came down on the marathon Lok Sabha elections today with an all-time high voter turnout of 66.38 per cent as the final phase of polling covering 41 seats in three states replicated the trend of increased voter participation seen in the previous eight rounds.

The overall turnout in all nine phases of polling this year stood at 66.38 per cent, the highest in the history of the Lok Sabha elections, surpassing the previous best of 64.01 per cent in 1984 following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The turnout in 2009 was 58.19 per cent.

The polling today for 18 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar was by and large peaceful, barring some violence in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal that left 30 persons injured, five of them critically.

Despite a clash between CPM and Trinamool Congress supporters at Haroa in North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal recorded the highest voter turnout today. Stakes run high for the Trinamool Congress in the state as the party hopes to retain all 14 of the 17 seats decided in the last phase today, besides gaining a few more.

Bihar registered the second highest turnout of 58 per cent, followed by Uttar Pradesh (55.29 per cent). The turnout in Varanasi, one of the most high-profile constituencies where Narendra Modi is pitted against AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and Congress' Ajai Rai, reached a record 56 per cent by 6 pm, as against less than 43 per cent in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009.

The constituency also witnessed a controversy over Rai displaying his party's poll symbol, following which an FIR was registered against him.

Over nine crore voters were eligible to seal the fate of 606 candidates today, including Modi, Kejriwal and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh).

In Bihar, the turnout was over 12 per cent higher than that in the last General Election. Voters ignored the searing sun and came out in large numbers in the six constituencies in the state where film-maker Prakash Jha and former Union minister Raghubansh Prasad Singh were among the 90 candidates in fray. In Uttar Pradesh, the highest turnout was recorded in Maharajganj (54.40 per cent) followed by Varanasi and Azamgarh (52.3 per cent). The total number of candidates in today's poll fray from the state was 328, including Modi, Kejriwal and Mulayam Singh Yadav.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Samajwadi Party had won six of the 18 seats where polling was held today. The BSP had got five, the BJP four and the Congress three.

Modi stokes fresh row

Narendra Modi stoked a fresh controversy on Monday by releasing a video message soliciting votes for the BJP on polling day. The Congress termed it violation of the poll code and urged the EC to initiate action against the BJP leader P12

Ajai Rai booked

Congress candidate from Varanasi Ajai Rai was booked after he went to vote wearing his election symbol on his kurta and talked to the media at the polling booth. The EC ordered registration of the FIR saying it amounted to "canvassing" on the voting day 





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