New Delhi, May 12: The curtains came down today on the marathon Lok Sabha elections with an all-time record high turnout of 66.38 per cent as the final phase of polling covering 41 seats in three states replicated the trend of increased voter participation of the last eight rounds.
The overall turnout in all the nine phases of polling this year was 8.19 per cent more than the 58.19 per cent of 2009, surpassing the previous best of 64.01 per cent in 1984 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Jharkhand, where voting was held over three days, recorded an overall turnout of 66 per cent, up 14.5 per cent from 2009.
Voting today in 18 seats of Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar was by and large peaceful barring stray violence in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal which left 13 people injured.
The highest polling today was recorded in West Bengal, where stakes are high for the ruling Trinamul Congress.
Bihar registered the second highest turnout in the last round with 58 per cent, followed by Uttar Pradesh 55.29 per cent. In Bihar, today’s turnout was over 12 per cent higher than the 2009 elections in the six constituencies. Voters ignored the blazing sun and came out in large numbers to choose from among 90 candidates that included film-maker Prakash Jha and former Union minister Raghubansh Prasad Singh.
The turnout in Varanasi, one of the most high-profile constituencies where BJP’s Narendra Modi is pitted against AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’s Ajai Rai, was 55.34 per cent.
It also witnessed a controversy over Rai displaying his party’s poll symbol, following which an FIR was registered against the Congress nominee.
Over nine crore voters were eligible to seal the fate of 606 candidates, including Modi, Kejriwal and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh), in the ninth phase of polling.