The Telegraph
 
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Voters come out in large numbers in last phase

New Delhi, May 12 (PTI): Brisk voting was recorded till noon Monday in most of the 41 constituencies in three states during the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections, in which the spotlight is on the high-profile contest in Varanasi where a controversy broke out over the Congress candidate sporting the party symbol.

Over 90 million voters are expected to vote to seal the fate of 606 candidates, including the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal (both Varanasi), and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh) in the ninth phase of polling in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.

Voting was by and large peaceful except in West Bengal where 13 people were injured in a clash between CPI(M) and Trinamul Congress supporters in North 24 Parganas district.

In Uttar Pradesh, nearly 24 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the first few hours in 18 seats to decide the fate of 328 candidates including Modi, Yadav and Kejriwal.

A controversy broke out in Varanasi over Congress candidate Ajay Rai sporting his election symbol on his kurta.

As the BJP and AAP sought action against him, the Election Commission directed the Varanasi Returning Officer to file a complaint against Rai for displaying his party symbol and talking to media at a polling booth. This amounts to “canvassing”, which is barred on voting day.

In Chandauli there were complaints of pictures of SP leaders being displayed on laptops in the polling stations. The images were then removed.

A report from Maharajganj said that there were problems in polling machines in three polling stations of Nautenwa, Panera and Sadar even as a village in Ballia boycotted polls.

Bihar witnessed a voter turnout of about 31 per cent till noon. Film-maker Prakash Jha and former Union minister Raghubansh Prasad Singh are among the 90 candidates in the fray from the six seats of Bihar.

Counting of votes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies will be taken up on May 16. An average of 66 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the last eight phases. The whole elections were spread over 35 days.