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West Bengal polls: 74 % voter turn-out; enclave-dwellers vote for the first time

Polling began at 7 am for 25 constituencies in the sixth and final phase of the staggered month-long polling for the West Bengal assembly elections.

Sohini Chakravorty May 05, 2016 18:44:49 IST
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West Bengal polls: 74 % voter turn-out; enclave-dwellers vote for the first time

Highlights

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May 05, 2016 - 17:31 (IST)

EC orders FIR against two TMC leaders 

The Election Commission has cracked the whip, ordering the district administration to file FIR against two TMC leaders: Udayan Guha and Rabindranath Ghosh.
Candidate from Natabari constituency in Cooch Behar, Ghosh was caught on camera barging inside polling booth and threatening a sector officer. He even accused the officer of acting as a CPM tout. Taking suo motu cognizance of the event, the EC had sought a report.
Guha, who is contesting from Dinhata constituency on a TMC ticket, has been charged with aiding proxy voting.
Meanwhile in Kaliachak, Malda, two brothers were shot at by an assailant allegedly linked with the ruling party. They have been admitted to Malda Medical College hospital and have been operated on. Family members say the duo were targeted for their links with CPM.

May 05, 2016 - 17:04 (IST)

Voters in Cooch Behar

People wait in queues to cast votes at a polling station in Cooch Behar during the final phase of West Bengal Assembly elections on Thursday.

PTI

May 05, 2016 - 16:50 (IST)

Opposition demands action against Ghosh

Condemning Trinamool Congress candidate Rabindra Nath Ghosh's act, the Opposition demanded his immediate arrest. "The Election Commission should immediately take action in the matter and (Rabindra Nath) Ghosh should be immediately arrested," said Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Ashok Ghosh.

May 05, 2016 - 16:48 (IST)

TMC candidate caught threatening polling officer

TMC candidate Rabindra Nath Ghosh was on Thursday allegedly caught on camera threatening a polling officer inside a booth. Taking cognizance of the media report, the Election Commission has sought a report from the district administration.

In a video broadcast by a TV channel, Ghosh is seen entering a polling booth in Cooch Behar's Natabari constituency, from where he is contesting, and verbally intimidating the official. "You are acting as a CPM tout; you are here to indulge in touting for the CPI-M?" Ghosh is heard saying and asking the official's name and where he was employed.

As the official says he is posted at a primary school, Ghosh retorts: "Oh, primary school! that will serve me better." He then moved out of the booth and while boarding his car, he is seen threatening a polling agent for being a "CPM tout".

May 05, 2016 - 16:19 (IST)

74% voter turnout till 3 pm 

In the final and sixth phase of the West Bengal Assembly election, voter turnout till 3 pm was recorded at 74.15% 

May 05, 2016 - 16:17 (IST)

Central force excesses reported in two districts

Reports of "central force excesses" poured in from different parts of the two districts (East Midnapore and Cooch Behar) that went to polls in the sixth and final phase of West Bengal Assembly polls on Thursday.
In Janubasan area of Tamluk, the district headquarters of East Midnapore, a five-year-old boy was allegedly injured when paramilitary jawans tried to disperse a crowd near booth no. 94 leading to massive protest from locals.
Abdul Kader, the TMC councilor of ward no.14 in Haldia reportedly suffered a hand fracture when CRPF jawans wielded their batons. Six other TMC workers were also injured. According to the forces, the TMC leader and his men had broken the 100-metre rule of not being allowed to assemble near a booth.
A similar incident was reported from Sitalkuchi, an administrative block in Mathabhanga subdivision of Cooch Behar. Five TMC supporters including two women were reportedly injured when jawans lathicharged on them. Once again, CRPF said they were forced to take action when the group of supporters refused to leave the vicinity of a booth despite repeated warnings.
In Khejuri, villagers damaged a road in protest against alleged excesses of jawans when six TMC workers were hurt by lathicharge.
In Moamari, Cooch Behar, CPM worker Azizul Haq was beaten up by bamboo sticks and stones by alleged TMC activists while returning home after casting ballot. His family members were also threatened, report local TV channels.

May 05, 2016 - 15:42 (IST)

EC's disabled-friendly booth a big hit

In the 51 erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar, over 9,000 enthusiastic voters, including three centenarians, voted for the first time since the country's Independence. Thousands turned up in East Midnapore's over 4,000 disabled voter-friendly booths, aided by the Election Commission's special initiatives.

In East Midnapore's Moyna seat, the CPM alleged that its polling agent's house was broken into and vandalised by Trinamool Congress supporters. The Trinamool, in turn, accused the Congress of overwhelming several booths in Moyna constituency in the district.

Five Trinamool workers were reportedly detained in the assembly segment on the charge of intimidating voters.

In Nandigram, the Opposition accused the Trinamool of intimidating and threatening their agents.

IANS

May 05, 2016 - 14:16 (IST)

Over 61% voter turnout by 1 pm

According to latest Election Commission  data, 61.88 per cent votes have been cast till 1 pm in the sixth and final phase of polling in West Bengal. Cooch Behar witnessed a polling percentage of 58.81 while for East Midnapore, the figure stood at 63.61, reports Firstpost's Sreemoy Talukdar.

May 05, 2016 - 14:04 (IST)

TMC accuses EC of 'spreading terror' 

In final phase of polling in West Bengal Assembly polls, the ruling party accused the Election Commission of "spreading terror". Six TMC workers were injured when central forces lathicharged on a crowd in Moyna of East Midnapore district, report Firstpost's Sreemoy Talukdar.

The incident took place near booth numbers 255 and 266 in Deubhanga when CRPF jawans wielded their batons to disperse TMC workers gathered around the booths. The ruling party claimed that they had maintained a distance of 200 metres away from the polling area. Section 144, was, however, imposed in the area.

Similar complaints were made by TMC in Natabari constituency of Cooch Behar where four party workers were beaten up when central forces lathicharged to disperse 'unlawful assemblies' near booth numbers 173, 178, 180 and 182.

In East Midnapore's Khejuri, TMC workers were caught trying to influence voters with fake EVM machines. According to reports in local TV channels, supporters of opposition parties were warned against stepping outside to vote in Satsimli village. The ones who did were intercepted on the road leading to the booth and 'tutored' on which button to press.

Meanwhile, the TMC has complained to the EC against BJP for holding a press conference on polling day. Mamata Banerjee's party said it was an attempt to influence voters.

May 05, 2016 - 12:21 (IST)

Police officer emerges as hero in an election marred by threats

Almost straight out of a Bollywood script, a police officer emerged as the hero as voting touched midpoint in the sixth and final phase of West Bengal Assembly elections.

Amid reports of voter intimidation from Mytore, a hamlet in Panskura (west) constituency under East Midnapore, officer Mohammed Bilal Hossain was seen going door-to-door and trying to allay the fears of local residents who were visibly scared stiff. "Don't be afraid. We are here to help you," the officer was seen in footage from local TV channels. "Who has threatened you, tell me their names," asked the officer to voters, many of whom refused to identify themselves for fear of retribution. Some broke out in tears. Hossain also gave a local CPM agent a ride in his jeep and escorted him to the polling booth from where he was driven out.

TMC candidate from Nandigram Subhendu Adhikari, one of the leaders whose name featured in the infamous Narada sting videos, dismissed all claims of voter intimidation, however.

In an interview to 24 Ghanta, Adhikari said the charges were "concocted and voting was extremely peaceful." Though reports emerged of voters being threatened in many areas of Nandigram including Khejuri, Mytore and Haldia, Adhikari said these were baseless reports.

"The central forces have created a reign of terror. We have understood their strategy. Accordingly, we changed our tactics," the TMC strongman said.

Polling began at 7 am for 25 constituencies covering the Cooch Behar and East Midnapore districts in the sixth and final phase of the staggered month-long polling for the West Bengal assembly elections.

Nine of the constituencies are in Cooch Behar district and 16 in East Midnapore.

Over 58 lakh (58,04,019) voters across 6,774 polling stations, including nine auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 170 candidates — 18 of them female in this phase. The Election Commission Ais using 7,790 EVMs and 621 VVPATs.

West Bengal polls 74  voter turnout enclavedwellers vote for the first time

Representational image. AFP

It is a historic day for the dwellers of the erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar who are voting for the first time, marking another giant leap in their absorption into India after nearly seven decades of stateless existence.

Altogether 9,776 erstwhile enclave dwellers, including 567 who have opted for India from the former Indian enclaves — now part of Bangladesh — are registered as electors. They are Aspread across five constituencies — Dinhata (5,486 voters), Mekhliganj (988), Sitai (1,396), Sitalkuchi (1,898) and Tufanganj (8).

Following the implementation of the historic Land Boundary Agreement, Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on 1 August, 2015.

Rising to the occasion, the Election Commission has rolled out the red carpet for the 9,776 first-time voters, besides setting up five model polling stations with facilities for sitting, wheelchairs etc.

In East Midnapore, all eyes are on Nandigram, where a peasants agitation in 2006-07 against the erstwhile Left Front government's bid to acquire farmland for a chemical hub and special economic zone had triggered police firing that resulted in 14 deaths.

The peasants protest played a pivotal role in the ouster of the Left Front after 34 years in office.

In 2011, the Trinamool Congress, then in alliance with the Congress, won 20 of the seats that go to the hustings in this phase.

The Congress got one, while Left Front partner All India Forward Bloc triumphed in four seats.

This time, the Left Front and the Congress have teamed up to throw a challenge to the Trinamool.

While the Left Front is in fray in 18 seats, the Congress is contesting from four constituencies, with the alliance extending support to three independent candidates.

The Trinamool and the BJP are fighting all the seats.

The star candidates include Trinamool's heavyweight leader and MP Suvendu Adhikari (Nandigram), who was purportedly seen in the Narada News sting operation video taking wads of currency notes in return for favours to a fictitious company.

Among other major candidates are state minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar (Mahisadal), Udayan Guha (Dinhata) -- both from Trinamool and Paresh Chandra Adhikary (Mekhliganj) of the AIFB.

The votes will be counted on 19 May.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date:

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