Altogether 55.78 per cent voters on Thursday exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, officials said. Polling at all the seven parliamentary constituencies began at 7 am and ended at 5 pm, they added. A total of 116 candidates were in the fray in these seven seats, which were once a Congress bastion. As many as 1,33,00,978 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the seven Lok Sabha seats, the officials said.
The state chief electoral office said Maoists-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha seat witnessed an impressive 61.33 per cent voter turn-out, while 60.50 per cent electorate exercised the franchise in Bhandara-Gondiya. Chandrapur recorded 55.97 per cent polling, followed by 55.36 per cent in Wardha, 53.97 per cent in Yavatmal-Washim, 53.13 per cent in Nagpur and 51.72 per cent in Ramtek (SC) seat.
Prominent candidates in these constituencies were Union ministers and senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur) and Hansraj Ahir (Chandrapur). Naxals triggered an IED blast near a polling booth in Maharashtra’s Gadchroli district while voting was underway, police said. There were no casualties, a police official said. Glitches in EVMs were reported at some places, an official said.
After reports of VVPAT machines not working in Gondiya district of Bhanadara-Gondiya constituency, returning officer there said the faulty machines were replaced quickly and the polling concluded smoothly. EVM glitches were also reported from Booth No 127 (Gadchiroli-Chimur constituency) and Booth No. 147 (Yavatmal-Washim) in Maharashtra. "The faulty machines were replaced in 15 minutes," Bhandara district Collector Shantanu Goel told PTI.
A voter outside the Blue Diamond School polling booth in Nagpur constituency said voters there were waiting in a long queue and the EVM machine there has stopped working. Some of those in the serpentine queue returned to their homes, he said.
After an EVM machine stopped working in Yavatmal constituency, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance candidate Bhavana Gawali requested the Election Commission to extend the poll timings in that booth.
The state Congress unit sent 39 complaints to the Election Commission (EC) about “glitches” in the functioning of EVMs at some booths in six Lok Sabha seats, the party said.
The party said in a statement that it made as many as 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. Four complaints each of such snags in Yavatmal-Washim and Gadchiroli-Chimur seats were also sent, it said.
Prominent among those who voted in the first phase were RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Gadkari (Nagpur) and former Union minister Praful Patel (Bhandara-Gondiya).