Moderate to brisk polling was on Thursday recorded in the first hours of polling for 91 Lok Sabha seats spread across 11 States, including the national capital, which was marred by violence in Naxal-hit States of Jharkhand and Bihar where Maoists killed two CRPF jawans and exploded landmines.
In the national capital, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal were among the early voters in the seven Delhi Lok Sabha seats which recorded an impressive 10 per cent turn out in the first two hours of voting which commenced at 7 a.m.
Voting for six Lok Sabha seats in Bihar commenced under the shadow of violence as Maoists killed two CRPF jawans and injured seven others when they were on their way to polling stations of Jamui constituency in Munger district.
The Maoists first detonated an improvised explosive device and then ambushed the CRPF personnel near Sawa Lakh Baba Mandir at the entrance of Bhimbandh jungle at around 5.30 a.m. The security personnel returned the ultras’ fire.
In another incident, Gaya Police seized six can bombs weighing 30 kg each from Banke Bazar area under Imamganj Assembly segment, which is part of Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat, where too polls are underway.
The bombs were defused, Gaya senior superintendent of police Nishant Tiwari said. Brisk voting is on in the six constituencies where polling is on in the State.
Nearly 11 crore voters are expected to cast their vote in 91 seats spread across 11 States and three Union Territories.
This will be the third round in the nine-phased elections which began on April 7 and will conclude on May 12.
Among the States which went to polls today are Kerala (20 seats), Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana, UP (10 each), MP (9), Delhi (7) and Bihar (6).
In Jharkhand, Maoists exploded a series of landmines in the forests of Latehar district and exchanged gunfire with security personnel early before the polling began for the Chatra Lok Sabha seat.
In an incident of fratricide, three personnel of India Reserve Battalion(IRB) deputed on poll duty were shot dead by a colleague in Gumla district of Jharkhand hours before Lok Sabha polls began in the area.
An estimated 14 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 10 AM in Jharkhand where a voter attacked a booth official with a knife in Lohardaga.
The first of the two-phased simultaneous elections to the 10 Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly seats in the Maoist belt in Odisha began amidst tight security in view of the poll boycott called by the extremists.
Voting was peaceful in western Uttar Pradesh with 11 per cent votes polled in the first two hours of voting. While Aligarh witnessed nine per cent polling, in Saharanpur 14 per cent votes have been polled.
Nearly four per cent of the total voters had cast their votes in Haryana during the first hours of polling for the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies while polling began on a brisk note in Chandigarh Union Territory, where 11 per cent voters had exercised their franchise.
Polling had to be stopped for a brief period at two polling booths in Ambala Parliamentary constituency after EVM machines malfunctioned.
Amid tight security, brisk voting was underway in Jammu Lok Sabha seat where Congress nominee and two-time MP Madan Lal Sharma is looking for a hat-trick while opposition BJP’s Jugal Kishore Sharma is trying to woo electorate on Narendra Modi plank.
In Kerala, an average 16 per cent turnout was recorded in the first two hours of polling in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies. Long queues of voters were seen in urban as well as rural areas as polling proceeded in a peaceful manner.
Moderate polling was registered till 9 a.m. in ten seats across Vidarbha area of Maharashtra.
Voting was underway in nine out of the 29 Parliamentary constituencies in Madhya Pradesh.
Polling in the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency in the Lakshadweep Islands began this morning on a peaceful note.
We expect better voting: EC
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath hoped that voting percentage will keep improving with every round of the Lok Sabha election.
“We hope for better voter participation in every phase,” he said in New Delhi.
He said Thursday's voting was “critical ... because some of the sensitive areas in the country are going to the polls”.
He added, “People have always come forward to discharge their democratic duties. We have every hope this time too they will do so, and give us free and fair polls.”