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Nearly 52 pc voting in Haryana till 4 pm; polling peaceful

A voter turnout of 51.93 per cent was recorded till 4 pm in the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana on Sunday, with Kurukshetra and Hisar constituencies witnessing brisk polling.

Polling began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm, officials said.

While poll officials said voting was going on smoothly, Congress' Rohtak candidate Deepender Singh Hooda, who is seeking re-election for a fourth term, accused Haryana Minister and Rohtak MLA Manish Grover of "intimidating" voters by forcibly entering some polling booths.

Grover, however, rejected the charge claiming that Deepender Singh Hooda, who is the son of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, made baseless allegations in the face of "imminent defeat".

The poll percentage recorded till 4 pm was 51.93 per cent, poll officials said.

Kurukshetra, from where Haryana minister Nayab Singh Saini is pitted against Congress' Nirmal Singh and INLD's Arjun Chautala, recorded a poll percentage of 56.99 while Hisar recorded 55.50 per cent voting.

Sirsa, Karnal, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh, Sonipat, Rohtak, Gurgaon, Ambala and Faridabad registered polling percentage of 52.71, 47.31, 53.32, 52.59, 52.74, 49.53, 49.71 and 50.81 respectively, officials said.

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, was among early the voters, exercised his franchise at a polling booth in Gurgaon.

After casting his vote, he posted a picture of his inked finger on Twitter and wrote, "Voting is your right and responsibility towards nation building. Go vote."

Polling was initially slow in some constituencies, including Gurgaon and Rohtak, but started to pick pace as the day progressed.

Polling was going on peacefully across the state, Haryana's joint chief electoral officer Inder Jeet said, adding there were some glitches in EVMs and VVPATs at a few booths early in the morning, but those were replaced immediately.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was among the early voters in Karnal while former Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress, fighting the elections from Sonipat, cast his vote at Kiloi in Rohtak district. State Congress chief Ashok Tanwar exercised his franchise in Sirsa. Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) candidate and the sitting MP in Hisar Dushyant Chautala also cast his vote in Sirsa.

JJP leader Digvijay Chautala, a candidate from Sonipat, alleged that at booths 88, 89 and 90 in Jind district, his party symbol (a pair of slippers) were "not clearly visible on EVM machines".

"This is a serious matter and the Election Commission must look into this," he said.

Enthusiastic voters were seen at several places. A bridegroom went to cast his vote in Mullana in Ambala parliamentary constituency before solemnising his marriage.

At Sirsa and Hisar, voters queued up since early morning to cast their vote. There were reports of a few centenarians also exercising their franchise.

Som Dutt (98) exercised his franchise at a booth in Yamunanagar while 92-year-old Shanti Devi who reached the booth on a wheelchair cast her vote in Ambala city.

Poll officer Inder Jeet said over 1.80 crore people are eligible to vote in the state. Altogether, 223 candidates, just 11 of them women, are in the fray.

Prominent among them are Union ministers of state Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurgaon and Krishan Pal Gurjar from Faridabad.

Deepender Hooda, is seeking re-election for the fourth term from Rohtak as a Congress nominee.

Union minister Birender Singh's son Brijendra Singh (BJP) and former chief minister Bhajan Lal's grandson Bhavya Bishnoi (Congress), both political greenhorns, are contesting from the Hisar Lok Sabha seat, where they face JJP's Dushyant Chautala, who is the grandson of former chief minister O P Chautala.

Former Union minister Kumari Selja and state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar are fighting from Ambala and Sirsa, respectively, for the party. AAP state president Naveen Jaihind is contesting from Faridabad.

Among the major parties in the fight are the BJP, the Congress and the INLD, which are fighting the 10 seats independently.

The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which was formed after a split in the INLD six months ago, is contesting on seven seats, while the remaining three seats are being fought by its ally the AAP.

The BSP is fighting on eight seats, leaving two for its ally the Loktantra Suraksha Party floated by rebel BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini.

Notably, all the major players in Haryana are eyeing good performance in the Lok Sabha polls as the outcome could have a bearing on the Vidhan Sabha polls which are due in October.

In the 2014 parliamentary polls, the BJP contested eight seats and won seven. Its then ally the Haryana Janhit Congress had fought on two seats, losing both. The INLD won two seats and the Congress could retain only the Rohtak seat last time.

A large number of women were seen in queues at the tastefully decorated 'Sakhi Matdan Kendras', which are exclusively run by women and have been set up in each assembly segment.

Officials said that necessary arrangements, including those pertaining to security, have been put in place to ensure smooth polling.

As many as 19,441 polling stations have been set up in the state, including 5,510 in urban areas and 13,931 in rural areas. Webcasting is being done in 1,020 polling booths while 67,000 security personnel have been mobilised to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.