Over 67 pc polling in Haryana

Over 67 per cent of 1.80 crore electorate exercised their franchise in the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, where 223 candidates, including two Union ministers and a former chief minister, are in the fray.

In the 2014 general election, the overall poll percentage stood at 71.86.

State Joint Chief Electoral Officer Inderjeet Singh said till compiling of figures at 9 pm, 67.40 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the polls.

No untoward incident was reported in the state and the polling remained peaceful.

The highest polling percentage (till 9 pm) was recorded in the Sirsa parliamentary constituency (73.11) followed by Kurukshetra (72.46) per cent and the lowest was in Karnal (60.78).

Notable candidates included Union ministers Rao Inderjit Singh, Krishan Pal Gurjar, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kumari Selja of the Congress and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala.

Eleven women candidates are in the fray, prominent amongst them being Kumari Selja (Ambala) and Shruti Choudhary (Bhiwani-Mahendergarh) of the Congress and Sunita Duggal (Sirsa) of the BJP.

There were reports of minor skirmishes from some parts, including Fatehabad, Nuh in Mewat, Sirsa and Gurgaon, between supporters of political parties.

While poll officials said voting went on smoothly during the day, 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.

Deepender Hooda, son of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, also lodged a complaint with Rohtak's deputy commissioner.

Grover rejected the charge as "baseless" allegations in the face of "imminent defeat". The minister alleged that there were complaints against Congress workers of intimidating some voters.

While polling was underway, the Rohtak police claimed to have arrested Ramesh Lohar, a history sheeter of Bohar village, along with his accomplice Sunil in front of a school, and seized three fake vehicle number plates, 15 cartridges of 0.32 bore, sticks and lathis.

Three vehicles with temporary numbers were also impounded, police said.

Two cases of electoral offences were registered in Nuh district, they said.

Jannayak Janta Party's (JJP) Sonipat candidate Digvijay Chautala alleged that his party symbol (a pair of slippers) was not clearly visible on electronic voting machines at booths 88, 89 and 90 in Jind district.

The election officer said there were some glitches in EVMs and the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) at a few booths early in the morning, but those were replaced immediately.

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli posted a picture of his inked finger on Twitter after exercising his franchise at a polling booth in Gurgaon. "Voting is your right and responsibility towards nation building. Go vote," he tweeted.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar voted in Karnal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is fighting from Sonipat, cast his vote at Kiloi in Rohtak district. State Congress chief Ashok Tanwar, JJP candidate and sitting Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala exercised their franchise in Sirsa.

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

A few nonagenarian also exercised 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 town.

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

The Election Commission had made special arrangements to facilitate physically challenged voters.

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

The 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.

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.