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Maharashtra voter turnout below expectations at 62.37 percent

Posted on Apr 10 2014 | IANS

Mumbai, April 10 : Despite a brisk early start, the final voter turnout in the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies which went to the polls Thursday stood at 62.37 percent, falling below expectations, officials said.

Akola, Amravati, Bhandara-Gondiya and Gadchiroli-Chimur constituencies notched up the highest - 65 percent - till 6 p.m. when voting ended, a state Election Commission official said.

Nagpur, the biggest constituency in terms of voters, recorded just 59 percent voting, while the lowest turnout at 58.60 percent was in Buldhana.

In Yavatmal-Washim, 60 percent voters exercised their franchise, Wardha 61 percent, Ramtek 62 percent and Chandrapur 63 percent.

Surprisingly, the turnout in the Maoist-hit Gadchiroli-Chimur constituency was as high as 65 percent with people defying threats from the guerrillas.

Officials attributed the low turnout to the scorching heat in eastern Maharashtra where afternoon temperatures measured between 38 and 40 degrees Celsius and touched 45 degrees in some pockets.

"Many people preferred to take advantage of the cool morning hours and evening hours but most keep away during the afternoon," officials explained.

A total of 201 candidates, including 15 women and 90 independents were in the electoral fray in the first phase of polling which passed off peacefully under tight security.

Around 46,000 voters' names were reported missing in Amravati constituency following which the local Shiv Sena activists staged a sit-in protest outside the collector's office.

The lower than expected turnout has worried both the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

However, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant commented that the turnout proved that "there is no (Narendra) Modi-wave" in Maharashtra.

"We shall definitely perform better than the last (2009) election when Congress won four and NCP one seat from this region," Sawant said confidently.

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