India gets inked - 2019 elections phase 1 of 7 commences
By  Shimon Chadha | Updated:  Apr 11, 2019, 02:01 PM
As the Phase 1 of 17th Lok Sabha elections begins today, approximately 14 crore people are eligible to vote in the 91 constituencies spanning 18 states and 2 Union Territories. Additionally, the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will conduct state assembly elections simultaneously.
14/25 seats in the North-east, spanning all the eight states, will witness polling today. Andhra will undergo polling in all 25 Parliamentary seats, and the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep Islands, in their 1 seat each. Other states include Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal.
Some of the major leaders to contest today are Union Minister of Shipping and Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur in Maharashtra, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju and former CM Nabam Tuki in the Arunachal West constituency of Arunachal Pradesh, RLD leader Ajit Singh and former Minister of River Development Sanjeev Balyan in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, and junior Foreign Minister VK Singh and Congress first-timer candidate Dolly Sharma in Ghaziabad.
First few hours of this ‘festival of democracy’ are already marked by controversies and headlines. Many EVMs in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir have been reported to be malfunctioning, so much so that angry voters damaged a non-functioning EVM in Andhra and a Jana Sena MLA candidate smashed an EVM, later arrest by the police. Mob fights broke out at various places between supporters and activists of opposing parties, resulting in deaths and injuries of bystanders and the perpetrators themselves. A TDP candidate locked himself inside a booth, and was broken out by police officials later. Tripura police reported having received complaints about voters being turned away without casting their votes. Drones are being used by the Election Commission for surveillance in the polling booths. An explosive device was placed by Naxals near a polling station in Maharashtra, but no casualty was reported. In Noida, another controversy erupted when ‘NaMo food packets’ were delivered to polling officials. After protests by voters that the Model Code of Conduct was being violated, the packets were hidden out of public sight, and justification was provided that the name was coincidental.
Till 1:30 pm, Bihar recorded 33% turnout, 34.60% voting recorded in Aurangabad, 33% in Gaya, 37% in Nawada and 29% in Jamui, and 23.2% in Andhra Pradesh. A total of 1.5 crore voters are voting in the eight seats of Western Uttar Pradesh.
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