West Bengal polls: Phase-I concludes peacefully with nearly 80 percent turnout

Kolkata: The first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections concluded with an estimated 79.79 percent voter turnout on Saturday.

In the first phase, 30 seats covering all assembly constituencies from the districts of Purulia and Jhargram and a segment of Bankura, Purba Medinipur and Paschim Medinipur went to the polls to decide on the electoral fate of 191 candidates, including 21 women.

Polling that began at 7 am came to an end at 6.30 pm. Among the five districts in the state, Purba Medinipur recorded the highest voter turnout with 82.42 percent till the end of voting time. Meanwhile, Purulia recorded the lowest voter turnout with 77.13 percent, according to the Election Commission.

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Jhargram recorded 80.55 per cent, Paschim Medinipur 80.16 per cent and Bankura 80.03 per cent voter turnouts, the poll body said.

Polling was peaceful

Addressing mediapersons, Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab said, “Apart from a few sporadic incidents, the polling was peaceful. We received 627 complaints in total. There was an incident in Majhna High Madrasa regarding an error in VVPAT. It was replaced and the polling went on smooth.”

Regarding the attack on BJP leader Soumendu Adhikari’s car, he said, “Three people have been arrested in Contai where a driver sustained minor injuries.”

In the first phase of polling, the total number of electors is 73,92,709. Among them, 37,64,344 are males and 36,28, 310 females and 55 are of the third gender. There are 11,767 service electors and three overseas electors.

When it comes to the postal ballot absentee voters, 26,736 were of senior citizens category and 4512 were physical disability category.

Polling personnel

As many as 47,060 polling personnel were deputed at 10,288 polling booths in 7061 polling station locations during the first phase of elections.

For this phase, EC had appointed 36 observers, including 20 general observers, 7 police observers and 9 expenditure observers. Further, there were 1979 micro observers in phase-I polling.

According to EC, Rs 35.97 crore cash, liquor worth Rs 18.22 crores, Rs 77.91 crore worth drugs and narcotics as well as precious metals worth Rs 8.4 crore and freebies of Rs 66 crores have been seized till now.

Stray incidents of violence were reported from some areas that voted in the state.

Earlier on Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu Adhikari’s vehicle was allegedly attacked and his driver was thrashed by miscreants at Sabajput area in Contai.

Soumendu and his brother Dibyendu Adhikari alleged that Trinamool Congress (TMC) block president Ram Govind Das has orchestrated the attack and that he was involved in poll rigging in three booths as the polling for the first phase of the West Bengal assembly has been underway on Saturday. Meanwhile, Soumendu was unharmed in the incident.

Speaking to ANI, Soumendu said, “Under the leadership of TMC block president Ram Govind Das and his wife, poll rigging was taking place at three polling booths. My arrival here created a problem for them to continue with their mischiefs, due to which they attacked my car and thrashed my driver.”

Following this incident, a BJP delegation headed by party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya met the Election Commission in Kolkata.

Notable names

Some notable names who participated in the first phase of polling included Srikanto Mahato, Rajib Lochan Saren, June Malia and Uttam Barik from TMC, and Rabindranath Maity, Chandana Bauri and Rajib Kundu from BJP.

Congress fielded five candidates for the first phase including Nepal Mahato from Baghmundi, Shiu Maiti from Bhagabanpur, Uttam Banerjee from Balarampur, Manas Kumar Karmahapatra from Egra and Partha Pratim Banerjee from Purulia.

Now the remaining seven phases for the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held on different dates with the final round of voting scheduled on April 29. Counting of votes will take place on May 2.

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