Rajasthan polling ends, around 50 percent turnout expected


Jaipur : Polling for the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan ended Thursday evening with stray incidents of violence reported from parts of the state. One man was killed in police firing on a mob trying to capture a booth, officials said. The overall turnout was expected to be around 50 percent.

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“Some incidents of stone pelting and booth capturing have been reported. Final figures will only be available after three hours or so but we expect that around 50 percent of over 36 million voters had cast their votes till 5 p.m.,” an Election Commission official told IANS.

The turnout is estimated to be at par with the 2004 Lok Sabha polls when the voting percentage was 49.94 percent.

The official said the voting, that ended at 5 p.m. at 42,702 polling stations spread across the state, was mostly peaceful, as elaborate security arrangements had been made.

One man was killed when police opened fire on a mob trying to capture a booth in Olwara village in Sawai Madhopur district, which is in the Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency. Gujjar leader K.S. Bainsla is contesting on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from that constituency, against central minister Namonarain Meena of the Congress.

“One person, Netram Meena, was killed and one injured when CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) personnel opened fire on a stone pelting mob,” Sawai Madhopur’s Superintendent of Police Vishal Bansal told IANS by phone.

Stray incidents of stone throwing and booth capturing were also reported from Dausa and Alwar constituencies. Kishori Lal Meena, contesting from Dausa as an Independent, is said to have been injured in a stone throwing incident.

According to the poll panel official, complaints of booth capturing were reported from one of the booths in Dausa constituency. “We are looking into it and if need be, we would order repolling,” he added.

At some places, there were reports of technical snags in the electronic voting machines (EVM), which had to be replaced.

Mahesh Joshi, the Congress candidate from Jaipur, had to wait for some time as the EVM developed a snag.

Polling began at 7 a.m. in all 25 constituencies’ 42,702 polling booths, including six mobile booths in Jaisalmer.

Nine constituencies had been declared sensitive and security measures have been beefed up in these areas, a poll official said. These are Dausa, Tonk-Sawai Madhopur, Karauli-Dholpur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Jaipur rural, Bhilwara, Jhalawar-Baran and Chittorgarh. Over 86,000 security personnel were on poll duty.

In all, 36 million people, including 17.2 million women, were eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 346 candidates.

Prominent contestants include the Congress’ Sachin Pilot in Ajmer, Girja Vyas in Chittorgarh and C.P. Joshi in Bhilwara, and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Manvendra Singh in Barmer, Dushyant Singh in Jhalawar and Bainsla in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur.

Buta Singh and Kirori Lal Meena were fighting from Jalore and Dausa respectively as Independents.

The BJP was trying to hold on to the 21 seats it had won in the 2004 parliamentary elections, while the Congress was trying to increase its tally from the four seats it won then.

It has always been a two-party contest in the state. This time, however, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), rebels and Independents are trying to make a dent in the vote bank of both the major parties. In eight of the 25 constituencies, the contest was considered three-cornered this time.