Highest turnout in Arunachal at 72 per cent; CEC terms polls "very satisfactory"

An average 66 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh held on Tuesday.

While Arunachal Pradesh recorded a tentative 72 per cent polling, it was 66 in Haryana and 60 in Maharashtra.Barring a few stray incidents of group clashes, damage to the EVMs, firing and disruption by Maoists in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra no major incident was reported in the three States.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, briefing journalists, along with Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath, described the elections as “very satisfactory.”

Two incidents of deaths, both due to heart attacks, were reported in Haryana. While 48-year-old polling agent Jyoti Ram died of chest pain following a clash between supporters of Congress nominee Dillu Ram and Independent candidate Kulwant Bazigar in Gulha Assembly constituency in Haryana's Kaithal district, an 84-year-old man died of cardiac arrest when he came to vote in a booth in Rewari district.

Staff face hurdles

Polling parties of 22 polling stations in Aheri (ST), Gadhchiroli (ST) and Armori (ST) Assembly constituencies could not reach their place of work due to obstructions posed by the naxalites.

Further decision on holding the poll there would be taken based on the report from the district. The naxalites opened fire at a patrol party near Kasansur in Aheri block shortly before polling began.

No one was injured in the incident and the security forces did not retaliate. In another incident naxals opened fire at a polling station at Bonde in Korchi taluka. No one was hurt, additional forces, including commandos, were despatched by an IAF helicopter.

Threats ignored

Despite grave threats from the Maoists who had even mobilised cadres from neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to disrupt the poll process and warned that they would chop off the fingers of those who violated their poll-boycott call, over 55 per cent turned up in Gadchiroli district and 68 per cent in the neighbouring Gondia district, another area known for naxal operation.

In Mumbai, which witnessed poor voter turnout in the Lok Sabha elections, the polling this time was around 48 per cent in the 10 Assembly constituencies in the city, and 52 per cent in the 22 constituencies in Mumbai suburbs.

While Haryana witnessed minor clashes between political parties and police firing in different places, in Arunachal Pradesh miscreants damaged EVMs in 16 polling stations.

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