The Lok Sabha elections 2019 have begun on Thursday with voting for the first phase of the mega democratic process. Voting is being held in seven Lok Sabha constituencies including Nagpur, Ramtek, Wardha, Yavatmal-Washim, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli-Chimur and Bhandara-Gondia, in Maharashtra in the first phase.
Barring a minor incident in Gadchiroli, the voting was almost peaceful across the region. Naxals trigged an IED blast near a polling booth, after which it was shifted to a safer place. No injury was reported in the incident.
In Nagpur, people queued up in front of polling stations in good numbers at 7 am. According to officials, 17.56 per cent people exercised their franchise in the first four hours of voting between 7 am and 11 am in all six constituencies of Nagpur city. Maximum 18.34 pc voting was recorded in Central Nagpur followed by 17.96 pc in East Nagpur, 17.67 pc in South West Nagpur, 17.42 pc in West Nagpur and 17.20 pc in South Nagpur. Lowest 16.9 pc voting was reported in Nagpur North.
Voters’ turnout was low in Ramtek (SC) constituency, which recorded just 9.82 pc voting till 11 am. Chandrapur recorded 10.86 pc voting while Yavatmal-Washim recorded 12.06 pc voting. Bhandara-Gondia constituency recorded 12.20 pc voting while Wardha recorded 15.76 pc voting. In Gadchiroli people braved the Naxal threat and came out in good numbers to vote. In the first four hours, the district recorded 18.01 pc voting, highest in all seven constituencies in Vidarbha. The overall voters’ turnout in Vidarbha in the first four hours was 13.70 pc.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Union minister and BJP candidate from Nagpur Lok Sabha constituency Nitin Gadkari, Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit, district collector Ashwin Mudgal were among the early voters. Bhagwat and Joshi exercised their franchise at Bhaui Daftari School in Mahal. Bhagwat also appealed voters to take part in the biggest democratic festival in large numbers. Nitin Gadkari cast his vote with family at Town Hall, Mahal. He is having a close fight with Congress candidate Nana Patole.
In Nagpur South West segment, 100-year-old Adv KB Kale exercised his franchise. Founder of Nagpur Nagarik Sahakari Bank, Kale has voted in all elections for NMC, Assembly and Parliamentary since 1952.
In Gondia, former Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Praful Patel cast his vote with his family. He is not contesting LS polls from this constituency this time. In Yavatmal, former MPCC chief and Congress candidate from Yavatmal-Washim LS constituency Manikrao Thakre, district guardian minister Madan Yerawar exercised their franchise. BJP-Sena candidate from Bhandara-Gondia LS constituency Sunil Mendhe gave his vote in Bhandara with his wife. In Gadchiroli district, activists Dr Abhay Bang and Dr Rani Bang exercised their franchise at Chatgaon. The couple had taken various initiatives this year to ensure that tribal and poor voters were not lured by candidates by offering liquor and money.
In Chandrapur, State finance and planning minister Sudhir Mungantiwar cast vote at City High School.