Kolkata: The third
phase of assembly elections in West Bengal Wednesday saw a women
voter dying of sun stroke and another of head injury even as
polling proceeded with 50 percent votes cast till 1 p.m. in 75
constituencies of three districts, including this metropolis. Some
sporadic incidents of violence were also reported.
"In South 24 Parganas district, a woman died of sun stroke in
Kultali while waiting in the queue to exercise her democratic
right, while another woman died when she slipped and sustained a
head injury after coming out of a polling booth in Canning West,"
said District Magistrate N.S. Nigam.
A total of 14,419,669 people in Kolkata and the neighbouring
districts of North and South 24-Parganas are eligible to elect
their representatives from among 479 contestants - many of them
stars from the field of politics -- including Chief Minister
Kolkata has 11 constituencies, North 24-Parganas has 33 while
South 24-Parganas 31.
"In first six hours since polling started at 7 a.m., 50 percent of
the electorate have voted," said Additional Chief Electoral
Officer N.K. Sahana.
In Kasba constituency, a clash broke out between the supporters of
the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Trinamool
Congress in which four activists were injured and a vehicle was
"One person was arrested," said Murli Dhar, additional police
Joint Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar said a presiding
officer in a polling station in central Kolkata's Maniktala
constituency was replaced after allegations of false voting.
In some booths, polling process was delayed due to malfunctioning
of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). "At least 45 EVMs have been
replaced, but so far there are no reports of poll process being
disturbed," Sarkar said.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and former Indian cricket
skipper Sourav Ganguly cast their ballots in the city booths.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was among the early
birds. The areas being covered in the phase include the
cosmopolitan industrial belt in the city and its suburbs and the
populated areas of the world's largest mangrove forest Sundarbans.
Main opposition Trinamool Congress has high stakes in this round,
with the area regarded as its citadel going by the last poll
results. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool and its
alliance partner Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist
nominees were ahead in 66 of the 75 assembly segments.
Other than Bhattacharjee, the fate of 11 other state ministers,
including Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, Housing Minister Gautam
Deb, Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu, Leader of Opposition Partha
Chatterjee, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, and Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) secretary general
Amit Mitra, will be decided in the polling at 17,792 booths.
A number of celebrities nominated by the Trinamool, including film
stars Debashree Roy, Chiranjeet (Dipak) Chakroborty, theatre
personality Bratya Basu, and singer Anup Ghoshal are also trying
their luck in the third phase.
Ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)
is contesting in 61 constituencies, Forward Bloc (7), Communist
Party of India (3), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) (3), the
Trinamool (70) and the Congress (5).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up candidates in all the
75 constituencies, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 51.
Over 600 companies of security forces have been deployed and more
than 3,000 polling stations have been identified as super
sensitive. Around 1.4 lakh people have been identified as
vulnerable to threats from miscreants.
Polls to the 294-member assembly, which started April 18, will end
May 10. The first and second phase of elections saw around 85
The votes will be counted May 13.