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60% turnout in 5th phase of Lok Sabha polls

Voting for the first time with grandma at a polling booth in Aska, Odisha.

Voting for the first time with grandma at a polling booth in Aska, Odisha. Photo | Shamim Qureshy

NEW DELHI: The fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls recorded a voter turnout of 60.48% at 11 pm on Monday, taking a slower turnaround from 61.82% for the same seats in 2019. With 49 seats in eight states and Union Territories voting, The fifth phase had the fewest seats in the seven-phase elections, which began on April 19. This phase concluded the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra and Ladakh.

According to the Election Commission, Baramulla recorded a voter turnout of 59% in J&K. It is the highest ever poll percentage in the constituency since 1984. Baramulla had witnessed a fierce three-way fight between National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah, People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone and the jailed Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) chief , Sheikh Abdul. Rashid alias Engineer Rashid. In 1984, Baramulla had recorded a voter turnout of 58.90%.

Ladakh too recorded a record voter turnout of 68.47% till 8 pm. This is the first major electoral contest in the region after it was extracted from J&K and given the status of a Union Territory in 2019. Of the 49 seats in the fifth phase, the BJP had bagged 32 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The most watched seats are the fourteen seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in West Bengal and thirteen in Maharashtra. All eyes are on UP’s Rae Bareli and Amethi, where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his family loyalist KL Sharma are in the fray. Rahul was deployed in Rae Bareli after his mother Sonia Gandhi moved to the Rajya Sabha. In Amethi, Sharma is pitted against sitting BJP MP Smriti Irani. The fifth phase is crucial for the Congress as the BJP had won 13 of the 14 seats that went to polls, barring Rae Bareli.

In Maharashtra, 10 of the 13 seats witnessed a pitched battle between the two factions of the Shiv Sena. Voting also took place in five seats in Bihar, three in Jharkhand and five in Odisha. West Bengal recorded a voter turnout of 73.14%. Leading candidates include Piyush Goyal, Bharati Pawar, Rajnath Singh and Chirag Paswan.