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50-55% polling in final phase

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 10, 2004 19:19 IST
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An estimated 50-55 per cent of the 252 million voters exercised franchise in the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections across 16 states and Union Territories, the Election Commission announced on Monday.

Among the 12 states, West Bengal, where 42 seats are up for grabs, registered the highest turnout of 65-70% while the lowest was in Madhya Pradesh (42 to 45%) and Jammu and Kashmir (44%).

Haryana - 60-65%
Himachal Pradesh - 60%
Punjab - 55-60%
Tamil Nadu - 55-60%
Uttaranchal - 55-60%
Kerala - 55-58%
Uttar Pradesh - 50%
Delhi - 50%

The highest turnout among Union Territories was registered in Lakshadweep (72%) and the lowest in Chandigarh (50 to 55 per cent), EC spokesman A N Jha told reporters in Delhi.

Silchar constituency in Assam, where former Union Ministers Santosh Mohan Deb of Congress and Kabindra Purakayastha of BJP are the main contestants, registered a 60% turnout.

Barring the killing of two persons in poll-related violence in West Bengal, Jha said polling was by-and-large peaceful.

The final round of polling, which dealt with the largest chunk of seats, sealed the electoral fate of 2,132 candidates. Prominent among them are: Communist Party of India (Marxist) veteran Somnath Chatterjee (Bolpur); Lok Sabha deputy speaker P M Sayeed (Lakshadweep); and Union ministers Jagmohan (New Delhi), B C Khanduri (Garhwal), Mamata Banerjee (Kolkata-South),  Satyanarayan Jatiya (Ujjain), Sahib Singh Verma (Outer Delhi), I D Swami (Karnal) and Vijay Goel (Delhi-Sadar).

Counting of votes for all the 543 Lok Sabha seats, for which elections began on April 20, would be taken up on Thursday May 13 and the results are expected the same day. Exit polls have predicted a hung House.

Simultaneous assembly elections were held in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Sikkim.

In view of the need to constitute the new Andhra Pradesh assembly before May 13, counting of votes in the state will be taken up on Tuesday May 11.

The polling in all four phases was marred by violence. Poll related violence claimed 35 lives, mainly in Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Despite militant threats, the voter turnout in J&K was moderate.

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