Bengal polls’ 5th phase: Over 57 percent vote in six hours

Kolkata : Amid tight security and braving the sweltering heat, over 57 percent of the electorate cast their votes in the first six hours of polling for 53 constituencies in the fifth and penultimate phase of West Bengal’s assembly polls on Saturday.

Voting began at 7.00 a.m. for 31 constituencies in South 24 Parganas and 18 in Hooghly districts besides four in South Kolkata.

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“Poll percentage till 1.00 p.m. was 57.10 overall. In Hooghly it was 59.83 percent, in Kolkata South 46.35 percent and in South 24 Parganas 58.24 percent,” said an Election Commission (EC) official.

While the EC claimed the polling was peaceful, the CPI-M and Congress accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of intimidating voters and election agents.

Trinamool leaders including Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee alleged “excesses” by the central security forces.

Both the CPI-M and the Congress demanded her immediate arrest.

Taking cognisance of the remarks, the EC directed filing a first information report (FIR) against Guha.

AThere were reports of entry of “outsiders” in Kasba while in Haripal in Hooghly district, the CPI-M claimed its agents were prevented from entering or threatened/intimidated in some booths in Khanakul in Hooghly and South 24-Parganas’ Canning East

Clashes between the Trinamool and CPI-M were reported in Arambag of Hooghly.

Left Front-Congress backed independent nominee Ambikesh Mahapatra alleged voters were being prevented from entering booths in his constituency Behala East.

He also claimed the family of one of his polling agents was assaulted and threatened by “Trinamool goons”.

Nearly 1.24 crore voters across 14,642 polling stations, including 77 auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 349 candidates — 43 of them female.

The Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting in all the seats in this phase.

The Left Front, which has tied up with the Congress, is in the fray in 37 seats – CPI-M (31), All India Forward Bloc (three), Revolutionary Socialist Party (two) and Communist Party of India (one). The Congress has nominated 14 candidates.

In the 2011 assembly polls, the Trinamool had captured 46 seats. The LF had won only six – CPI-M (four), and the RSP and the AIFB (one each). The Socialist Unity Cetre of India-Communist had bagged one.

Ahead of Saturday’s polls, elections have been held in 216 of the 294 constituencies in the state.

The remaining 25 will vote in the sixth and final phase on May 5.