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West Bengal registers 79% polling in 1st phase of 2021 state polls

There were reports of EVM malfunctioning at 20 booths in Bankura district, eight in Jhargram and 39 in Purulia

Saturday March 27, 2021 7:29 PM, IANS

West Bengal 1st Phase Election

New Delhi: As many as 79.79 per cent voters exercised their franchise in ten hours of polling for 30 Assembly seats in West Bengal on Saturday.

More than half of the 73-lakh electorate in Bengal's 30 Assembly constituencies have cast their ballot and sealed the fate of 191 candidates who are in the fray on the first day of the eight-phase elections in West Bengal where polling is underway in five districts.

At least 21 female aspirants are contesting elections in West Bengal.

In Bengal, the serpentine queues showed people are aware of the importance of the crucial poll that is seeing a bitter battle between the ruling Trinamool Congress-led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP that has pitched every high-profile leader into campaigning in West Bengal.

Districtwise polling percentage

As per the latest figures from Bengal, the approximate voter turnout trend till 5 p.m. in Bankura was the highest at 80.03 per cent, Jhargram at 80.55 per cent, Purbo Medinipur at 82.42 per cent, Paschim Medinipur at 80.16 per cent and Purulia at 77.13 per cent, according to the Election Commission's voter turnout App.

In Bengal's East Midnapore, two security personnel were reportedly injured in a firing incident that took place early Saturday at the Satsatmal, Bhagwanpur Assembly constituency ahead of voting. Tension prevailed in the Tulsidi village where the incident took place. Security forces are keeping a close vigil in the area, surrounded by forests that were once Maoist hideouts.

EVM malfunctioning

There were reports of EVM malfunctioning at 20 booths in Bankura district, eight in Jhargram and 39 in Purulia. EVMs in various booths had stopped working temporarily due to a technical glitch. People said they had to wait for more than two hours to cast their ballot.

In Purulia, allegations were raised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against a former minister and Trinamool candidate of purportedly distributing cash among voters. The BJP has filed a complaint with the poll body.

Suvendu Adhikari's brother and BJP leader Soumendu Adhikari accused Trinamool Block President Ram Govind Das and his wife for poll rigging at three polling booths, saying "my arrival here created a problem for them to continue with their mischief, so they attacked my car and thrashed my driver".

Dibyendu Adhikari, another of the Adhikari siblings, told the media he got to know that his brother's vehicle was attacked in Contai with the help of Trinamool Block President Ram Govind Das. "Soumendu isn't injured. The driver was beaten up. I've informed the Police Observer."

High-stake seats

There are seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur -- home ground of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. These seven -- Patashpur, Kanthi Uttar, Bhagabanpur, Khejuri, Kanthi Dakshin, Ramnagar and Egra -- are perceived as sensitive.

Polling began at 7 a.m. amid tight security for the first phase when the Jungal Mahal area in the south-western fringes that is said to be Maoist-affected, also voting. The polling will end at 6 p.m.

Compared to first two hours in the morning, the number of voters increased manifold in the afternoon on polling booths with all section of citizens seen enthusiastically exercising their franchise. Women, particularly first-time voters, carrying voter slips and Aadhaar cards were seen standing in long queues. Special police officers deputed for election duty helped the aged and the physically challenged voters at the polling stations.

Of the five assembly elections scheduled in four states and one Union Territory, West Bengal has the most number of seats and voting spread over eight phases, a maximum.

The other seven phases to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held on April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Results will be declared on May 2.


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