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October 3, 1999


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56 pc polling recorded in final phase

Thirteen people, nine of them security personnel in Tripura and Assam, were killed as an estimated 56 per cent of the 133 million voters cast ballots till this afternoon in the fifth and final phase of polling to constitute the 13th Lok Sabha.

In Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh, from where Congress president Sonia Gandhi is contesting in addition to Bellary (Karnataka), almost 60 per cent of the electorate, with a high turnout of women voters, exercised their franchise.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cast his ballot in his constituency, Lucknow.

The break-up of polling percentage in the 118 constituencies spread over ten states and one union territory was as follows: Lakshadweep recorded the highest 82 per cent, followed by Sikkim and West Bengal (65 each), Andhra Pradesh (62), Arunachal Pradesh (55), Assam (55), Bihar (56), Madhya Pradesh (55), Orissa (55), Tripura (50) and Uttar Pradesh (55).

With today's balloting, polling for 536 of the 543 seats and five assemblies -- Andhra Pradesh (293, excluding Sirpur), Karnataka (224), Arunachal Pradesh (60), Sikkim (32) and Maharashtra (288) -- will be completed.

In Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Mukut Mithi and three of his Congress colleagues were elected unopposed.

Of the remaining Lok Sabha constituencies, Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir and Outer Manipur will go to the polls tomorrow. Polling in Rajmahal, Bhagalpur, Khagaria, Purnea in Bihar and Dhubri in Assam will be held on October 28.

The poll process was scheduled to be completed by October 10.

The outlawed All Tripura Tiger Force ambushed a CRPF patrol party at Girish Karbari Para in Dhalai district of Tripura at about 0715 hrs killing four CRPF jawans, the civilian driver and his helper, according to IG, police (law and order) K Salim Ali. One militant was killed when the security forces retaliated. The ATTF and the NLFT had given a poll boycott call.

In Madhepura constituency of Bihar, where former chief minister Laloo Yadav is facing Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-U, a RJD block president and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Kailash Gupta, who had sustained bullet injuries in a shootout between rival outfits in Chausa block, died in hospital today. A local JD-U MLA Narain Yadav had been detained in this connection.

Five policemen, including two Home Guards, were gunned down by suspected ULFA militants in Hahsora polling booth of Barpeta parliamentary constituency two hours before voting began.

In other incidents, militants abducted a policeman and snatched polling materials in Tinsukia district.

About 45 per cent of the 37 million voters in 31 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh had exercised their franchise by the afternoon. Polling in Lucknow started on a sedate note, but picked up later. No untoward incident has been reported so far.

While an estimated 45 per cent of the nearly 1.4 million electorate in 12 constituencies in Bihar cast their ballots, polling was marred by stray incidents of violence -- bomb blasts, booth capturing, ballot paper snatching -- in Sehore and Sitamarhi districts.

In West Bengal, about 55 per cent of voters cast their ballots even as the Naxalite outfit, Maoist Communist Centre kidnapped five security personnel and snatched away rifles in Midnapore district to disrupt polls. The incident took place last night in Jhargram constituency where the MCC had given a poll boycott call. Prominent among the candidates in the state are Trinamul Congress president Mamta Banerjee (Calcutta South), Indrajit Gupta (Midnapore), Somnath Chatterjee (Bolpur), Gita Mukherjee (Panskura) and Ajit Kumar Panja (Calcutta North East).

Apart from 42 constituencies in West Bengal, voting took place in Uttar Pradesh (31), Bihar (12), Assam (13), Orissa (11), two each in Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and the Union territory of Lakshadweep.

About 50 per cent of the 13 million electorate had voted till afternoon in the 11 constituencies in Orissa. Polling was reported to be peaceful. A polling officer in Boisinga assembly segment of Balasore parliamentary constituency was found dead this morning. Another officer from the same polling booth was admitted to hospital in an unconscious state. Union steel and mines minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik (Aska) and J B patnaik's wife Jayanti (Behrampur) are among the prominent candidates in Orissa.

In Tripura, about 60 per cent of 1.8 million electorate exercised their franchise for the two Lok Sabha seats and the bypoll for one assembly seat in the state.

In Arunachal Pradesh, 35 per cent of the 0.6 million voters exercised their franchise. In all, six candidates including Union minister of state for tourism Omak Apang are in the fray for two Lok Sabha seats. Election for the 60 member assembly is also being held simultaneously today.

An estimated 70 per cent polling was recorded in Lakshadweep Lok sabha constituency, where deputy speaker in the dissolved Lok Sabha P M Sayeed is in the fray.

An estimated 52 per cent of the 2.55 lakh electorate exercised their franchise for the lone Lok Sabha seat and 32 assembly constituencies in Sikkim despite a poll boycott call by the ethnic Sikkimese Tribal Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee. Sikkim Democratic Front president and chief minister Pawan Chamling and Sikkim Sangram Parishad chief Nar Bahadur Bhandari were among the first to cast their ballots.

About 35 per cent of the 2.32 million voters exercised their franchise in Vidisha and Hoshangabad constituencies in Madhya Pradesh where polls were adjourned due to heavy rains. Former chief minister Sundarlal Patwa is seeking re-election from Hoshangabad.

In violence-prone Narasaraopet Lok Sabha constituency of Andhra Pradesh, about 45 per cent of the 12.62 lakh voters exercised their franchise. Polling was by and large peaceful due to unprecedented security arrangements. Police fired in the air at Goggulpadu village when ruling TDP men allegedly tried to prevent Congress agents from entering the booths.

Moderate to brisk polling was reported in five assembly constituencies in Karnataka. Elections in these constituencies, originally slated for the first phase, was postponed by the Election Commission in view of the ''vitiated'' atmosphere.


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