57 percent voting in fourth round, four dead in violence

May 7th, 2009 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) The fourth round of Lok Sabha elections Thursday witnessed a 57 percent voter turnout, but the polling was marred by clashes mainly in west Bengal, including reports of four dead in poll-related violence, a senior election official said here.
“Overall, for all the states, we can put the voter turnout tentatively at 57 percent. There are still voters in queue at West Bengal, so we will get a final figure later,” Deputy Election Commissioner R. Balakrishnan told reporters Thursday evening.

The fourth and penultimate phase had voting in 85 parliamentary constituencies in seven states and a union territory.

The highest voting percentage was witnessed in West Bengal where a whopping 75 percent of the electorate exercised their franchise. The lowest voter turnout was in Jammu and Kashmir at 24 percent - which nevertheless was an improvement from 18.57 percent in 2004.

Both Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh saw moderate polling of about 50 percent, while Bihar had a low voter turnout of only 37 percent.

The national capital territory of Delhi, where all the seven constituencies went to the polls, saw only about half of its electorate registering their vote. The neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana had heavier voting respectively at 65 percent and 63 percent.

Most of the violent incidents were reported from West Bengal, where three people died during the day, and Rajashtan reported a case of a party worker killed in poll-related violence, Balakrishnan said.

The troubled Nandigram region in West Bengal witnessed clashes between two political parties near the Tekhali bridge, where one political worker was shot dead. Three people have so far been arrested in the incident.

“We have asked for a detailed report from the chief electoral officer of West Bengal on the violent incidents in the state,” said Balakrishnan.

The other incidents of violence in the state took place in Murshidabad and Asansol - both reported two voters killed in bomb blasts.

Besides, four electronic voting machines (EVMs) were damaged in West Bengal.

In the other states, the poll process was relatively smooth, without any major incidents.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, it was absolutely peaceful,” the official said.

“We have an incident of forcible voting in polling stations 38 and 39 in Agra parliamentary constituency. Barring this, in Uttar Pradesh the poll process was peaceful,” he said.

In Bihar, where three parliamentary constituencies went to the poll, there were 22 cases of poll boycott in Nalanda and Patna Sahib.

The Election Commission had made preparations for tackling the searing summer heat with drinking water facilities near polling stations, but two voters reportedly died from sunstroke in West Bengal.

In a village in Gurgaon near New Delhi, the commission received a complaint that five people were registering votes for the whole electorate there, and the matter was under investigation, Balakrishnan said.

He admitted that several voters had not found their names in the electoral rolls and said a detailed survey would be conducted once the poll process is over and the poll panel would fix responsibility for the anomalies.

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