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Over 67% voting; some EVMs 'act up'

NEW DELHI: A 67.84 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday in 95 seats spread in 11 states and a Union Territory, the Election Commission said.

Barring sporadic incidents of violence, the polling went off peacefully, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said.

Polling was held for 95 Lok Sabha seats in 11 states, with Tamil Nadu voting in 38 of its 39 constituencies, and the union territory of Puducherry.

While elections were cancelled in Tamil Nadu's Vellore constituency over the fear of abuse of money power, the poll was postponed to April 23 in Tripura (East) seat as there were apprehensions that law and order could be disturbed by miscreants.

Two violence-related deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, including that of a woman polling personnel who was killed by suspected Maoists on Wednesday in Odisha. Another death was reported Thursday. Two other people, including a voter and a polling officer, died of an apparent heart attack.

Complaints of faulty voting machines came from several states, including Assam, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu, as many as 384 faulty Electronic Voting machines and 692 faulty Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail machines were replaced, officers of the state election commission said.

The interim voter turnout stood at 43.4 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, the lowest, and 78 per cent, the highest, in Puducherry.

Udhampur and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir went for polls in this phase.

West Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu reported a turnout above 70 per cent.

Referring to the issue of 'glitches in EVMs, deputy election commissioner Sudip Jain said, a total of 1,000 ballot units, 769 control units 2,766 paper trail machines were replaced.

One control unit and at least one ballot unit make up for an EVM.

He said if a ballot unit or control unit is replaced, the paper trail machines need to be replaced along with it. "Hence the higher number of replacements."

Fourteen seats in Karnataka also went to polls along with 10 in Maharashtra, eight in Uttar Pradesh, five each in Assam, Bihar and Odisha, three each in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, two in Jammu and Kashmir and one seat each in Manipur and Puducherry.

Elections were also held in 35 assembly constituencies in Odisha while bypolls are being held in 18 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.

For 543 seats, Lok Sabha polls are being conducted in seven phases: April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. Counting will take place on May 23.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several Union ministers campaigned extensively for this phase, which saw many controversial speeches. Four top faces, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Maneka Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party candidate Azam Khan, were temporarily banned from campaigning.

The by-elections in Tamil Nadu will decide the fate of the AIADMK government led by E Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam. The 234-member assembly has 22 vacancies, 18 of them due to disqualification of rebel lawmakers who joined the team of TTV Dhinakaran last year. The AIADMK, which has 114 seats including the Speaker, needs five seats to retain the majority.

Among Thursday's high-profile candidates were Union ministers Jitendra Singh, Jual Oram, Sadananda Gowda and Pon Radhakrishnan. Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and former ministers Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja, and DMK leader Kanimozhi were also in the fray. Actor-turned-politician Hema Malini was the star candidate from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. See inside

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