Lok Sabha polls: Vidarbha sees 55.97% turn up until 5:30 pm

MUMBAI: The first phase of elections for the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region saw an average voter turnout of 55.97% till 5:30pm. The voter turnout for these seats in 2014 was 64.15%.

Additional chief electoral officer Dilip Shinde said voting was still going on well beyond the 6pm deadline in some of the booths across all the seven constituencies and so the final figure will be higher.

"In some of the polling booths in those constituencies there were long queues and so voting is still going on. The high temperatures in those area could be one of the reason why people would have stepped out after 5pm," said Shinde.

The highest turnout in all the seven seat is in the Naxal affected Gadchiroli-Chimur district. The district polled 61.33%. There were instances of violence in the district too.

There were four polling booths in Gadchiroli's Aheri tehsil where the polling parties could not reach and so polling could not be conducted. "There will be polling in these four booths later, dates for which will be decided in the next few days," said Shinde. He said there were an average of 1200 voters registered in each of these booths. Meanwhile, two incidents of violences were registered in Gadchiroli. Two CRPF Jawans were injured in Gadchiroli district when unidentified persons hurled a bomb at a polling station in Etapalli tehsil in which two CRPF jawans were injured while an incident of firing was recorded at Waghejhari polling station.

The voter turnout in Wardha was 53.36%, in Ramtek it was 51.72%, Nagpur saw a polling turnout of 53.13%, Chandrapur saw 55.97% voting, in Bhandara-Gondhia the voter turnout was 60.50% and in Yavatmal-Washim 53.78% voting was registered.

A total of 14,919 polling booths were installed for the first phase in which 164 VVPAT machines and 167 EVMs were reported to me malfunctioning--which is about 1.5% of the total machines deployed. "We have deployed 20% extra EVMs and 30% extra VVPATs as reserve in case of malfunctioning," said Shinde.

The number of candidates contesting from the seven seats are also less this time. A total of 116 candidates are in the fray this time as against 158 in 2014.

So far, a total of Rs 104.19 crore worth of items and cash have been seized by the flying squads across the state, of which Rs 34 crore is in cash and Rs 44.61 crore in gold and silver ornaments.