Brisk voting was recorded till noon on Monday in most of the 41 constituencies in three states during last phase of Lok Sabha polls in which the spotlight is on the high-profile contest in Varanasi where a controversy broke out over the Congress candidate sporting the party symbol.
Over nine crore voters are expected to vote to seal the fate of 606 candidates, including BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal (both Varanasi) and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh) in the ninth phase of polling in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.
Voting was by and large peaceful except in West Bengal where 13 people were injured in a clash between CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress supporters in North 24 Parganas district.
In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 24 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the first few hours in 18 seats to decide the fate of 328 candidates including Mr. Modi, Mr. Yadav and Mr. Kejriwal.
A controversy broke out in Varanasi over Congress candidate Ajay Rai sporting his election symbol on his kurta.
As the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party sought action against him, the Election Commission directed the Varanasi Returning Officer to file an FIR or complaint against Mr. Rai for displaying his party symbol and talking to media at a polling booth amounting to “canvassing” which is barred on voting day.
In Chandauli, there were complaints of pictures of SP leaders being displayed on laptops in the polling stations which were then removed.
A report from Maharajganj said that there were problems in polling machines in three polling stations of Nautenwa, Panera and Sadar even as a village in Ballia boycotted polls.
West Bengal recorded a good turnout till noon with over 41 per cent voters exercising their franchise in 17 Lok Sabha seats.
However, voting was marred by violence in Minakha Assembly segment of Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency where 13 people were injured in a clash between CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress supporters at Haroa.