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LS Polls 2019: Voters turn out in large numbers to elect 91 MPs in 1st phase; 2 killed in Andhra

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The world's largest polling exercise began Thursday with an estimated 9 crore coming out to vote for electing 91 parliamentarians in the first phase of over-a-month-long elections for which the has made nationalism its core pitch against a fragmented opposition, even as poll-related violence saw at least two deaths.

Complaints poured in about missing voter names and glitches in electronic voting machines in some areas, while Naxal-affected regions of and saw IED blasts and clashes with security forces, though officials maintained the polling was largely peaceful with moderate-to-large voter turnout.

West Bengal, where voting took place for two seats, saw the maximum 81 per cent voting, while state election officers put the voting percentage at 73 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, where violent clashes left at least two persons dead. Some reports put the number of deaths in poll-related clashes at three.

The 91 constituencies, spread across 18 states and two union territories, have more than 14 crore voters -- about one-sixth of nearly 90 crore total electorate in A total of 1,279 candidates are in the fray for these seats.

Votes for all 543 seats would be counted on May 23 after end of the seven-phase polling on May 19. An estimated 1.5 crore young voters in the age group of 18-19 years would vote for the first time across the seven phases.

In the last in 2014, more than 55 crore had voted (66.3 per cent) with the emerging victorious with little over 30 per cent votes, giving a five-year mandate to a government led by

In the first phase, the has sought to defend 32 seats, including those being fought by and five other union ministers, and also expand its tally in states dominated by regional players last time.

The main opposition party is hoping to defend seven seats it won in 2014, besides eyeing gains in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and

Voting also took place in 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, 32 in Sikkim, 57 in and 28 seats in Odisha.

The first-phase Lok Sabha constituencies included all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 17 in Telangana, five in Uttarakhand, two in Meghalaya, two in and lone seats in Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, and Lakshadweep.

Besides, eight seats in Uttar Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, five in Assam, four each in and Odisha, two each in and and one seat in are also part of the first-phase. These states are having multi-phase voting.

The poll panel did not share the overall polling percentage at its briefing, saying the data was still being collated. However, the estimates pegged the total voter turnout in the first phase at around 9 crore.

The said saw 50 per cent turnout, the lowest for the first phase. The two seats in J&K -- Jammu and Baramulla -- recorded 54.49 per cent vote, down from 57.19 per cent in 2014. The state also saw protests over defective in some areas and at least one incident of firing.

Seeking another term in power, has focussed his election campaign on national security and flagship schemes of his government.

The main opposition has promised to roll out a minimum income scheme for the poor and its has been relentlessly targeting the over issues of corruption.

After his mother filed nomination papers, Gandhi said in Rae Bareli that the election results would prove that Modi is "not invincible".

The prime minister, whose party has been attacking opposition leaders with 'anti-national' barbs, said at an election rally in that opposition parties were scared their "shops" of corruption and dynasty will shut down if he comes back to power.

In Andhra Pradesh, TDP N Chandrababu Naidu is seeking to retain power, but is facing a stiff challenge from YSR Y S Jaganmohan Reddy.

In Telangana, the ruling TRS is hoping for an encore in Lok Sabha polls after sweeping the December assembly elections, while both Congress and are looking to increase their respective tallies.

In Uttar Pradesh, BJP is facing the newly-formed SP-BSP-RLD alliance. In Muzaffarnagar, took on BJP's Sanjeev Balyan, while his son was pitted against in Baghpat.

In Maharashtra's Nagpur, Gadkari faced Congress candidate and former Nana Patole, while his party colleague is seeking a fourth term from Chandrapur.

In Bihar, was in the fray from Jamui against Bhudeo Chaudhary of RLSP.

In the North East, is seeking re-election from Arunachal West. In Assam, former CM Tarun Gogoi's son was in the fray in Kaliabor.

In Chhattisgarh's Bastar, security was tightened with deployment of 80,000 state and paramilitary personnel following a naxal attack in Dantewada area on Tuesday, in which one and four security personnel were killed. It recorded 57 per cent voting, as per provisional figures.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 11 2019. 22:45 IST