The third phase of Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday, covering 116 parliamentary constituencies across 13 States and two Union Territories, registered an overall tentative voter turnout of more than 66% compared to 69.3% in 2014. In all, 11 deaths due to natural causes in Kerala and one murder in West Bengal were reported. Among the prominent candidates in this phase were BJP president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar; Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who is contesting from Kerala’s Wayanad; Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge; BJP’s Alphons Kannanthanam; and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
A total of 63.24 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the third phase of 2019 Lok Sabha election. Assam recorded the highest polling of 80.74% compared to 75.74% in 2014, followed by Tripura with 79.36%, that was lower than the previous figure of 83.03%. Karnataka also recorded a small increase in the turnout. However, there was a sharp decline in the Anantnag constituency of Jammu and Kashmir, from 39.37% in 2014 to just 12.86%. Gujarat and Kerala where polls are being held on all Lok Sabha seats, recorded 60.21 per cent and 77.68 per cent voter turnout, respectively. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and BJP President Amit Shah exercised their franchise, and urged voters to cast votes. States where polls are being held include Gujarat (26 constituencies), Kerala (20), Maharashtra (14), Karnataka (10), Uttar Pradesh (10), Chhattisgarh (7), Odisha (6), Bihar (5), West Bengal (5), Assam (4), Goa (2), one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Tripura.
The five constituencies of Odisha, where the third phase of Assembly election was held simultaneously, also had a lower participation of 64% as against 72.45% in the last Lok Sabha elections. After a high decibel 40-day-long campaign, Kerala went to single phase polls on Tuesday with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Alphons Kannamthanam and sitting MP Shashi Tharoor among those whose fortunes will be decided.
It is a do-or-die battle for both the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and Opposition Congress-headed UDF in most of the 20 Lok Sabha seats this time in the State, known for its decades-long bipolar politics. The BJP-led NDA is posing a formidable challenge to the two traditional fronts in at least three constituencies — Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur. The saffron party is hoping to capitalise on the Sabarimala women entry issue and ensure the Lotusblooms this time from the State in the Lower House of Parliament.