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High turnout in sixth phase of LS poll

New Delhi: High voter enthusiasm today
marked the sixth phase of polling covering 117 constituencies
spread across 12 states as the race to the Lok Sabha crossed
the halfway mark with stakes high for Congress and BJP.
Barring the killing of a policeman in Assam's Kokrajhar
district in BSF firing to ward off mobs trying to capture a
booth and a suspected Maoist attack on a poll team in
Jharkhand, the polling today was peaceful.
The turnout today in all the 11 states and 1 union
territory, including Mumbai, was higher than the previous Lok
Sabha elections in 2009, in sync with the trend witnessed in
the five earlier phases this time.
While the highest turnout of 83 per cent was recorded in
the lone seat of Puducherry followed by West Bengal (82 per
cent for six seats) and 73 per cent for all the 39 seats in
Tamil Nadu which saw singledphased polling today.
Only two statesRajasthan (59.2 per cent for five seats)
and Maharashtra (55.33 per cent for 19 seats)registered
below 60% turnout.
Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag constituency, where PDP
chief Mehbooba Mufti in in fray, recorded the lowest turnout
of 28 percent today but it was still higher than the 26.9 per
cent recorded five years ago.
About 18 crore voters were eligible in the sixth phase
to exercise their franchise to decide the electoral fate of
nearly 2100 candidates including political heavyweights like
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid (Congress) who is in
fray from Farrukhabad constituency in Uttar Pradesh state, SP
chief Mulayam Singh Yadav contesting from Mainpuri also in UP,
leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj (BJP) in
Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, her party colleague Shahnawaz
Hussain in Bhagalpur in Bihar and President Pranab Mukherjee’s
son Abhijit in Jangipur in West Bengal.
After today’s polling, the voting in 347, or close to
two third, of the total of 543 Lok Sabha seats are over with
216 seats left in the remaining three of the total of nine
phases of the elections.
Today’s was the second biggest phase of the staggered
elections after the fourth phase held on April 17 covered 121
BJP and Congress are squared off in Maharashtra, Madhya
Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh states but the politically
most important part of today’s polling was the 39 seats in
Tamil Nadu where BJP and a cluster of smaller regional parties
have firmed up a rainbow alliance projected by opinion polls
as having a realistic chance of bagging six to seven seats.
In the previous parliamentary poll five years ago, DMK
had won 18 seats and AIADMK nine. Some opinion polls have
projected Jayalalithaaled party to secure 24 seats this time
and if that comes true, she will be a key factor in forming
the next coalition government at the Centre in the event of a
fractured electoral mandate.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti, DMK's A
Raja, the prime accused in 2G spectrum case, and senior
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar are among some of the key
candidates in Tamil Nadu this time.
The 19 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra which went
to poll today, including six in Mumbai, are crucial as the
state’s ruling CongressNationalist Congress Party alliance is
projected to be struggling in the state which has a total of
48 seats.
Mumbaikars shed some of their known pollingday apathy
with 53 per cent voter turnout and overall, around 56 per cent
of 3.18 crore voters exercised their franchise to decide the
fate of 338 candidates including Union Minister Milind Deora,
sitting MPs Priya Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam of Congress, social
activist Medha Patkar and ministers in Prithviraj Chavan
government Chhagan Bhujbal and Sunil Tatkare.
The turnout in Mumbai was a significant improvement
over 2009 Lok Sabha elections when only 41.43 per cent
electorate exercised their franchise.
Bollywood celebrities, including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir
Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, and industry captains were among
early voters to beat the afternoon heat. After a brisk start
in the morning, queues at polling booths dwindled to a trickle
in the afternoon as the mercury rose but voting picked up
again towards the evening.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar cast his vote along
with wife Anjali around noon at a polling booth near their
residence in suburban Bandra.
Mumbai's six seats were swept by by Congress in the last
The electoral fate of three highprofile Congress
candidates were settled today in Mumbai—federal minister of
state Milind Deora, Priya Dutt, sister of Bollywood star
Sanjay Dutt, and senior party leader Gurudas Kamat. Aam Aadmi
Party’s Medha Patkar, a leading environmentalist, and leading
banker Meera Sanyal, BJP’s Poonam Mahajan, daughter of slain
party leader Pramod Mahajan, are some of the other key
candidates in the fray in Mumbai.
Today's polling in UP, which saw highprofile contests
involving Mulayam Singh Yadav, his daughterinlaw Dimple,
wife of state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Salman Khurshid
and film actor Hema Malini, saw a turnout of 602. per cent.
In the seven seats decided in Bihar today, the turnout
was 60 percent and among key contestants are BJP's Shahnawaz
Hussain in Bhagalpur and union minister Tariq Anwar of NCP.
With today’s polling in Assam’s six seats,
Chhattisgarh’s seven and Jharkhand’s four, voting has been
completed in the three states.
In Assam, an estimated 77.05 per cent of voters today
exercised their franchise to seal the fate of 74 candidates
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who represents Assam in
Rajya Sabha since 1991, and his wife Gursharan Kaur cast their
vote at Dispur Government Higher Secondary School in Guwahati.
The voting percentage was expected to increase with
people still inside polling booths and voting likely to
continue till after 9 PM, election office sources said.
Of the six Lok Sabha seats, Dhubri recorded the
highest 80.97 per cent of voter turnout followed by Mangaldoi
at 80.01 per cent, Kokrajhar at 77.74 per cent, Nowgong at
75.33 per cent, Gauhati at 75 per cent and Barpeta at 74.21
per cent.
In West Bengal, 82 per cent was recorded in six
parliamentary constituencies in the state's second leg of the
fivephase elections in West Bengal today.
"On an average 81.42 per cent of the voters cast their
votes till 6:00 pm in the six constituencies of Raiganj,
Balurghat, Malda North, Malda South, Jangipur and Murshidabad
in north Bengal," Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said.
"However, there are long queues in many polling
stations and the polling will continue till they are cleared.
The final turnout can reach about 84 per cent," Gupta said.
People boycotted polls in five booths, two in Malda
and three in North Dinajpur districts, protesting the absence
of development.

Rahul joins Priyanka in attacking Modi on snoopgate

Sitapur (UP): Rahul Gandhi today joined his
sister Priyanka Gandhi in attacking Narendra Modi over
snoopgate controversy, saying Gujarat government has no regard
for women as it gets their phones tapped.
Addressing an election rally at Hargaon, he alleged that
Modi gave 45,000 acres of agricultural land to an
industrialist though no industry has been set up there till
date and claimed farmers in Gujarat would have starved to
death had the Centre not implemented MNREGA.
"Gujarat government has no regard for women as they get
their phones tapped while Congress respects women and believes
in empowering them," the Congress Vice President said.
Priyanka Gandhi yesterday took on Modi by raking up
the "snoopgate" controversy surrounding him and said leaders
who indulge in wrong acts against women should be "thrown
The BJP reacted by accusing Congress of being confused
about its poll campaign and strategy and said its top
leadership continued to launch personal attacks on BJP leaders
while resenting such attacks on their own leaders.
It was alleged that Gujarat authorities had carried out
illegal surveillance on a young woman in 2009 on direction of
Modi, a charge rejected by BJP.
The Union Cabinet had on December 26 last year decided to
set up the Commission of Inquiry to probe into the Gujarat
snoopgate. The decision was taken under the Commissions of
Inquiry Act under which the Modi government has already set up
a similar panel.
"Modi who wants to guard the country sidelined senior BJP
leaders like Jaswant Singh and L K Advani," the Congress Vice
President said at the rally today.
Continuing his tirade against the "Gujarat model" of
development, Rahul said, "if UPA government had not
implemented NREGA, farmers of Gujrat could have died of
Criticising Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh,
Rahul said youths from the state go out in search of
employment and when they go to Maharashtra they are beaten and
forced to go back home by Shiv Sena and BJP.
Also targeting BSP supremo Mayawati, Rahul accused her of
grabbing land of poor farmers and amassing wealth during
her regime.
Rahul, who was campaigning in support of party candidate
Jitin Prasad from Dhaurara and Vaishali Ali from Sitapur,
promised to stop "money drain: to China and assured the people
that goods made in Dhaurara and Sitapur will be exported if
Congress returns to power.

Modi set to file nomination from Varanasi

Varanasi: BJP's Prime Ministerial pick
Narendra Modi arrived here to a rousing welcome from party
supporters to file his nomination for the mega electoral
battle in the holy city where he has been challenged by AAP
leader Arvind Kejriwal.
Thousands of people wearing saffron caps, Modi masks and
holding BJP flags, lined up along Nadesar, Andhrapaul,
Lahurabeer and Cant area in the heart of the city through
which he will carry out his road show before filing the
Immediately after reaching Banaras Hindu University, Modi
paid floral tributes to Madan Mohan Malviya at the campus of
the renowned educational institution.
At BHU, he was welcomed by thousands of people as sound
of conch shells reverberated the air.
The BJP has made elaborate arrangement to make the road
show a show of strength and create a momentum for the party’s
Prime Ministerial candidate.
The BJP supporters had started gathering along Modi’s
route since morning to have a glimpse of Modi.
Large number of people were seen on rooftops and
balconies of all buildings along Modi's route.
BJP units in all the 90 wards in the city reached the
venue of the road show by carrying out procession from their
respective wards.
Modi will carry out a twokm long road show before filing
nomination at the District Magistrate's office.
The party has invited all sections of people to the road
show and specifically requested the citizens from Punjab,
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, residing
here, to come in their traditional attire.
Madan Mohan Malaviya's grandson Giridhar Malaviya, a
retired judge of the Allahabad High Court, will propose Modi's
Among the other Modi proposers are Padma Vibhushan
Chhandu Lal Mishra, a noted classical singer of Benaras,
boatman Virbhadra Nishad and Ashok, representing the dominant
weaver community here.

Monsoon to be below normal with 95 per cent rainfall

New Delhi: In news that is not pleasant for
the farming community, India is expected to see below normal
monsoon this year with Met department forecasting 95 per cent
rainfall after a good spell of four years.
India Metereological Department (IMD) officials said the
monsoon is expected to be below normal because of the ElNino
effect, which is generally associated with the warming of
ocean water.
"The monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 95 per
cent of the Long Period average with an error of plus or minus
5 percent," it said in a statement here.
The rainfall between 9096 percent is catergorised as
below normal and rainfall between 96104 per cent is termed as
normal rainfall.
Large parts of the country which includes western,
southern and northern India will receive below normal rainfall
while the eastern parts (eastern UP, Bihar, Odisha, parts of
Andhra Pradesh and almost the whole of Northeast India) will
receive normal rainfall, according to South Asian Climate
Outlook Forum (SACOF).
It is a regional weather body comprising World
Meterological Organisation and six South Asian countries.
The forecast of below normal monsoon is not a pleasant
news for the farming community which heavily depends on the
rainfall, particularly for kharif crops such as rice,
soyabean, cotton and maize. The country's 60 per cent farm
land is rain fed.
The country has witnessed normal monsoon and bumper
harvest for the last four years.
Last year, the Met department had forecast 98 per cent
rainfall but it exceeded and the country received over 106 per
cent rainfall.
While the IMD has blamed the possible occurence of
ElNino effect for the below normal rainfall, the SACOF has
said that all the regions except the eastern states will
receive less rainfall.
"Latest forecast from a majority of the models also
indicate warming trend in the sea surface temperature over the
equatorial Pacific reaching to ElNino level during the
Southwest monsoon with a probablity of around 60 per cent,"
the IMD said.
With the Model Code of Conduct in place, the Met
department did not hold the customary press conference, but
instead posted the monsoonrelated information on its website.
"It is recognised that there is uncertainty in the
intensity of the El Niño event. There is also consensus about
the potential for adverse impacts of El Niño on the monsoon
rainfall over the region.
"However, other regional and global factors also can
affect the monsoon rainfall patterns over the region," SACOF
said in its report.
Large parts of South Asia will also receive below normal
rainfall. These include parts of Pakistan, Nepal, and almost
the entire Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

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