BSF fires in air after people try to vote without IDs

Special Correspondent
The Indian big “festival of democracy” – the Lok Sabha elections – has begun with 91 seats across 20 states going to vote in the first of the seven phase elections to elect the 17th Lok Sabha.
While many states will witness elections in multiple phases, states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, and Odisha will witness elections in single phases. Over the seven phases, the elections will cover 543 constituencies. The results, or counting of votes, will take place on May 23.
The main parties that are contesting the Lok Sabha polls are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. Leaders from the two parties have been criss-crossing the country almost every day in and holding three to four rallies in different locations in a bid to garner as many votes as possible for their parties. Among the top speakers at the various political rallies have been Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Voter turnout
At 1 pm, the voter turnout stood at 41.27%, in Uttarakhand, 38.78% in Uttar Pradesh and 41% in Odisha, 57% in Nagaland, 33.50% in Bihar, 55.95% in West Bengal, 53.44% in Manipur, 41% in Andhra Pradesh, 34.05% in Maharashtra,. 35.52% in Jammu and Kashmir, 39.08 % in Sikkim and 38.8% in Telangana.
18% votes cast in Bengal in two hours
Amid stray violence and EVM glitches, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar constituencies in West Bengal polled 18 per cent votes in the first two hours of polling on Thursday as the Lok Sabha polls kicked off in the country.
Of the total over 34 lakh voters in these constituencies, an average 18.10 per cent had polled till 9 a.m., an Election Commission official told IANS in Kolkata.
Naxals trigger IED blast near polling booth
Naxals triggered an IED blast near a polling booth in Maharashtra’s Gadchroli district Thursday while voting was underway, police said.
The IED (improvised explosive device) blast took place around 10.30 am in Waghezari area, around 150 metres from the polling booth where people were standing in queues to cast their votes for the Lok Sabha election, an official said.
No casualty was reported in the incident, he said.
2 killed in TDP- YSRC clash in Andhra
TDP worker Siddha Bhaskar Reddy and YSRCP’s worker Pulla Reddy were killed in clashes between TDP and YSRC workers at Meerapuram village of Tadipatri assembly segment in Andhra’s Anantapur district.
Both the party workers indulged in stone pelting against each other.
Initial voter turnout encouraging: BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said the initial voter turnout across 91 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 18 states and two Union Territories appears “encouraging” for the party.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in New Delhi that “Voters are turning out to vote despite the hot weather. I am sure if this trend continues, we will have a good respectable voter turnout. The BJP and the NDA’s workers are feeling extremely motivated,”
However, BJP has alleged that its candidate from Chikiti assembly constituency, Manoranjan Dyansamantray has been beaten up.
Abdhra CM demands repoll in 150 booths
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President N. Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday demanded repoll in around 150 polling stations due to the non-functioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Naidu identified more than 150 polling booths in Andhra Pradesh and said, “I demand conduct of repoll in all the above polling stations and such other polling stations where the polling has not commenced even at 9.30 a.m. due to the failure of EVMs.”
The “Borkha” factor in Muzaffarnagar
Hours after Muzaffarnagar BJP candidate Sanjeev Balyan alleged ‘fake voting’ in his constituency, the Election Commission on Thursday refuted his claim, saying women officials verify everyone wearing a veil, reported news agency ANI.
Balyan, a former Union minister, has alleged that faces of burqa-clad women were not being verified by poll officials in his Lok Sabha constituency and fake votes were being cast.
Brahmdeo Ram Tiwari, Additional Chief Election Officer, said: “If a woman is in a veil, there are women officials who verify their identity, and only then they are allowed to vote.” He added that no such incident had come to the Commission’s notice.
Balyan has said that he will demand a re-poll if his concerns are not addressed.
Mobile internet stopped in north Kashmir
As polling is underway for two Lok Sabha constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in 2019, mobile internet has been stopped in north Kashmir.
BSF?fires in air in UP’s Kairana
BSF fired in air in self defence in Rasoolpur Jugran village of Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana constituency. The security personnel tried to stop the people who were without IDs from casting votes and the crowd then turned violent. Situation is under control and voting is now underway, said DM. Shamli Akhilesh Kumar
39 complaints from Congress to EC of EVM glitches at poll booths
The Congress on Thursday sent 39 complaints to the Election Commission (EC) about “glitches” in the functioning of EVMs at some booths in six Lok Sabha seats of Maharashtra where polling was underway, the party said.
The state Congress in statement said it made 12 complaints to the EC via e-mail, pointing out glitches in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) at some booths in Nagpur, followed by eight such complaints in Chandrapur, six in Wardha and five in Ramtek.
The party also sent four complaints each of such snags in Yavatmal-Washim and Gadchiroli-Chimur seats, it said.
APCC asks EC to bar live telecast of PM’s speeches
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to address two rallies in Assam on Thursday, even amid polling in the state, the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has asked the Election Commission (EC) stop a live telecast of his speeches.
Votes are being cast in five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam in the first phase of polling. Modi is scheduled to address a rally at Kendukona in Kamrup district around 2.30 pm followed by another one at Cachar district in Barak Valley around 4.30 pm.
“To ensure a level playing to all contestants from different political parties and implement the provisions of the model code of conduct, we request you to keep a strict vigil so that no local, national television channel is allowed to live telecast speeches of Prime Minister Modi today while the polling is on,” APCC President Ripun Bora said in his letter to the EC.

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