New Delhi [India]: The Election Commission of India (EC) on Sunday rejected a plea seeking rescheduling of voting time on account of Ramazan, and the heat wave. The 5th phase of Lok Sabha polling will take place on Monday on 51 seats in seven states, for which all preparations are in place.
“The Commission does not find it feasible to alter the existing hours of the poll for the 5th, 6th and 7th phase of general elections to the Lok Sabha, 2019,” the EC said, citing logistical and administrative problems.
The Supreme Court on May 2 had asked the Election Commission to decide on a plea seeking re-scheduling of voting time from 7 am to 5 am in the General Election to the Lok Sabha during the month of Ramzan coinciding with the rest of the phases and also due to heat-wave conditions in Rajasthan and other areas.
The plea had been filed by Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha, an advocate.
Advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for Pasha, had submitted to the bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Rajan Gogoi that the polling should begin earlier because of the declaration of a possible heat wave during those days by the Meteorological Department and the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan.
Arora had further submitted to the top court that since the polling time cannot be extended in the evening due to the heat wave, the process should be allowed to begin sooner than usual.
The 5th phase of polling on Monday will decide the fate of several key leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Fourteen seats in Uttar Pradesh including Amethi, Rae Bareli, and Lucknow, 12 in Rajasthan, seven each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar and four in Jharkhand will go to polls in addition to Ladakh and Anantnag constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won 12 out of the 14 seats going to polls in Uttar Pradesh. The party is now facing the combined force of SP, BSP, and RLD, which had contested the polls separately last time.
According to the ECI, over 8.75 crore voters are eligible to cast their ballots to decide the fate of 674
candidates across the country in the 5th phase of polling, which will be held at 96,000 polling stations.
In Amethi, Rahul Gandhi is pitted against BJP’s Irani who was defeated by the Congress leader in 2014 elections. Sonia Gandhi, who is seeking re-election from Raebareli seat, is contesting against BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh among other candidates.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, SP-BSP’s Poonam Sinha, and Congress’ Pramod Krishnam are in the fray from Lucknow.
Union Ministers Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Arjun Ram Meghwal and Jayant Sinha, all from BJP, are contesting from Jaipur Rural and Bikaner in Rajasthan and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand respectively.
Also in the fray are Congress leader Jitin Prasad from Dhaurahra in UP and BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudi from Saran in Bihar.
In Jharkhand, two former chief ministers Babulal Marandi, the leader of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), and Arjun Munda of BJP are contesting from Kodarma and Khunti seats respectively.
Union Minister Virendra Kumar is locked in a three-cornered contest in Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh. He is pitted against Kiran Ahirwar of Congress and R D Prajapati of SP.
Former Railway Minister and TMC candidate Dinesh Trivedi is fighting against Arjun Singh of BJP and Gargi Chatterjee of CPM from Barrackpore in West Bengal. Arjun Singh, a four-time TMC MLA, had switched to BJP after Trivedi’s nomination from the seat.
Campaigning for the fifth phase of the elections ended on Saturday evening.
According to data released by the EC, final voter turnout in the fourth phase of ongoing Lok Sabha elections held on April 29 stood at 65.51 per cent.
The polling percentage in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections was the highest in West Bengal – around 76.44 per cent till 5 pm, EC had said on Monday evening.
Eight seats of the state went to the polls in the fourth phase. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the polling percentage for these seats was 83.38 per cent.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded the lowest turnout with just 10.5 per cent votes polled till 5 pm. Polling for Anantnag seat is scheduled to be held in three phases. On Monday, Kulgam district went to polls.
In 2014, the polling percentage for Kulgam alone was 36.34 per cent, according to Election Commission of India.
Talking to media persons, Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha along with other senior officials had said that in Odisha, where six Lok Sabha seats went to polls in the fourth phase along with 42 Assembly constituencies, 68 per cent votes were polled till 6 pm.
In 2014, the polling percentage in Odisha stood at 73.75 per cent.
In Rajasthan, where 13 out of 25 seats went to polls on Monday, the voter turnout was recorded at 64.5 per cent till 5 pm. The polling percentage for the same seats in 2014 stood at 64.48 per cent.
The rest 12 seats of the states will go to polls in the fifth phase on May 6.
Voting was held for five seats of Bihar as well. In these seats, around 58.92 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 6 pm.
In 2014, the polling percentage for these five seats was recorded at 56.18 per cent.
Seventeen seats of Maharashtra went to polls in the fourth and final phase of polls for the state. The voter turnout was recorded at 58.23 per cent till 6 pm.
In 2014, the polling percentage for the same seats was recorded at 55.58 per cent.
In Uttar Pradesh, 13 Lok Sabha seats went to polls on Monday. The polling percentage stood at 57.58 per cent. In 2014, the final turnout for these seats was recorded at 58.39 per cent.
In Jharkhand, where three seats went to polls on Monday, around 63.39 per cent voters exercised their franchise. This was slightly lower as compared to 2014 when the polling percentage stood at 63.82 per cent.
In Madhya Pradesh, where polling was held for six seats, the voter turnout was recorded at 66.14 per cent.
The first three phases of elections were held on April 11, 18 and 23.
The polling percentage in the first phase was recorded at 69.50, 69.44 in the second phase and 68.40 in the third phase.
The EC stated that the polling in the first three phases was 0.675 per cent higher as compared to the last Lok Sabha election in 2014.
According to the Election Commission, polling was largely “incident-free” except in West Bengal. In Jharkhand, the last voter in one of the polling stations in Chatra damaged the ballot unit.
“In West Bengal, BJP candidate from Asansol Babul Supriyo went inside a booth with his security guard alleging that his polling agent was not allowed to sit,” an EC official had said during the press conference.
“When the CRPF ASI in-charge protested the entry of security guards with the arms inside the booth, he pushed him physically and entered the booth along with his security guard,” he added.
“A case was also registered against Babul Supriyo and against unknown persons for breaking the glass of Babul Supriyo’s car,” he said.
The first four phases of the polls were held on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. After the fifth phase tomorrow, the sixth and seventh phases will take place on May 12 and May 19 respectively. The counting of votes is scheduled on May 23.