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Millions of Indians vote in the biggest phase of Lok Sabha polls, 60.03 pct turnout recorded
LS polls
In image voters exercise their election rights/ courtesy: PIB

Millions of Indians vote in the biggest phase of Lok Sabha polls, 60.03 pct turnout recorded

| @indiablooms | 19 Apr 2024, 09:10 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: Voters' turnout in the first phase of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024, projected by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a milestone to 2047 and the Opposition as a battle for democracy's survival, was 60.03 percent on Friday as polling was held in 102 seats across 21 states and Union Territories.

The first phase of polls was held on all seats of Tamil Nadu (39), Rajasthan (12), Uttar Pradesh (8), Madhya Pradesh (6), Uttarakhand (5), Arunachal Pradesh (2), Meghalaya (2), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Puducherry (1), Sikkim (1) and Lakshadweep (1).

Besides, five seats each from Assam and Maharashtra, four from Bihar, three from West Bengal, two in Manipur, and one each from Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chhattisgarh went for polling in the first of the 7-phase general elections.

Four states including Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh, will also pick new assemblies alongside this Lok Sabha election. Of these, Arunachal Pradesh (60 seats) and Sikkim (32) have already cast their votes.

At 7 pm, the recorded voting turnout was 60.03 percent. Tamil Nadu recorded 63.2 percent turnout, Rajasthan 50.3 percent, Uttar Pradesh 57.5 percent, and Madhya Pradesh 63.3 percent. As for the state polls, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh recorded 67.5 and 64.7 percent turnout, respectively.

Photo courtesy: PIBPhoto courtesy: PIB

An estimated 66.34 percent of voters exercised their franchise in West Bengal, a politically crucial state, which also recorded sporadic incidents of violence.

In the first phase, voting took place in North Bengal with Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri recording 65.54 percent, 66.23 percent and 67.28 percent polling respectively.

The ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP workers clashed in Cooch Behar and accused each other of violence, and assault on poll agents, media reports said.

North-Eastern state Tripura recorded 68.35 percent polling and is ahead of Bengal in terms of votes cast in the country.

In Manipur, a burst of gunfire was reported from a polling station in Bishnupur. In Imphal East district, a polling station was vandalised.

Meanwhile, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, two elderly people -- one a 77-year-old woman -- died at polling booths in Salem district.

BJP eyes massive win:

Backed by a high-octane campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP is targeting 370 of 543 Lok Sabha seats, if it happens, would see a steep rise from its score of 2019. The Prime Minister has set a high target of 400 seats for the NDA. In the last election, the NDA won 353 seats and the BJP won 303 seats.

The Opposition bloc INDIA, which mostly made headlines over its disarray in the run-up to the polls, especially with the switch over of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to BJP, has been putting the fight together following the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case.

Even so, in multiple pockets, the parties are up against each other, flouting the rule of one-on-one contests they guaranteed would push the BJP out.

The BJP is hoping to win 22 of the 25 seats in the northeast, an area it now dominates while sweeping the huge swathe of the Hindi heartland, Jammu in the north and Gujarat in the west.

Photo courtesy: PIBPhoto courtesy: PIB

In Bengal, the saffron camp is hoping to make it big banking on the array of corruption charges against Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and make further inroads in Odisha, even though the proposed alliance with Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal fell through.

In the south, once a fortress against all northern parties except the Congress, the BJP is expecting to win big in Karnataka, which voted in a Congress government last year.

With outreaches spearheaded by PM Modi, it is also hoping to make a dent in the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu. As insurance, it is piggybacking on a handful of smaller parties, including PMK of S Ramadoss.

Voting in second phase will be held on April 26 and counting of votes will take place on June 4.

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