West Bengal election 2021 LATEST Updates: Congress MP and the party's West Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday cast his vote for the final phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections at a polling booth in Murshidabad.
In Maniktala constituency of Kolkata, BJP candidate Kalyan Choubey was gheraoed by a group of people during his visit to the polling booths.
In the last phase of polling in West Bengal, 50.49 percent voter turnout was recorded till 1.15 pm, with the highest turnout in Murshidabad district (58.85 percent).
As polling for the final phase of Bengal Assembly polls was underway, bombs were hurled in front of Mahajati Sadan in central Kolkata. Huge police contingent deployed in the area, PTI reported.
As per the Election Commission, exit polls for West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry can be published at 7.30 pm on Thursday — an hour after polling in Bengal ends.
Voting at booth number 188 in Birbhum during the eighth and final phase of West Bengal Assembly polls on Thursday was delayed by half an hour due to a "glitch" in the Electronic Voting Machine, reported ANI.
Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth round of polling on 10 April, an election official told PTI.
In the eighth and the last phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, 35 constituencies across four districts are voting on Thursday. Among these, six are in Malda, eleven in Birbhum, eleven in Murshidabad, and seven in Kolkata.
The state, where elections began on 27 March, completed its seventh phase of polling on 26 April.
A total of 283 candidates are in the fray for the 35 seats in Bengal Assembly elections where security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth round of polling on 10 April, an Election Commission official said.
The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 641 companies of central forces, including 224 in Birbhum district, in the eighth phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said. Voting will be held at 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 Assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in Kolkata.
The counting of votes is on 2 May.
Polling will also enter its final phase in panchayat Uttar Pradesh where the fourth and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections is being held amid a raging second wave of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the poll panel has placed Trinamool Congress Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal under strict surveillance till Friday 7 am, as the chief electoral officer in the state has received "several complaints againsthim", the official said.
Two TMC ministers - Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pandey - are contesting from Shyampukur and Maniktala seats in north Kolkata respectively.
Three-cornered contests are expected in many of the 17 constituencies in Malda and Murshidabad districts where the Left-Congress-ISF combine has a stronghold apart from the TMC and the BJP.
The poll panel will also put in place measures to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the voting process, the official said. West Bengal on Wednesday logged 17,207 fresh COVID-19cases, the highest-single day spike recorded in the state so far, pushing the tally to 7,93,552, a bulletin issued by the health department said.
The death toll climbed to 11,159 with 77 more fatalities which is also the maximum count during a day, itsaid.
Campaigning for the eighth and final phase has been a low-key affair, following curbs imposed by the EC in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 cases in the state.
The EC has banned roadshows and vehicle rallies in the state and noted that the COVID safety norms were being flouted in West Bengal during campaigning. It also disallowed any public meeting with more than500 people.
Leaders of political parties chose either the virtualplatform or small street-corner meetings for campaigning, which ended on 26 April evening.
UP Panchyat polls
Over 5.27 lakh candidates are in the fray for more than 2.10 lakh seats across 17 districts in the final round of the panchayat election in Uttar Pradesh.
More than 2.98 crore voters will be casting their votes in the fourth and last phase of the polls which will be held from 7 am to 6 pm, officials said.
The polling is scheduled in the districts of Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Kushinagar, Kaushambi, Ghazipur, Farrukhabad, Bulandshahr, Basti, Bahraich, Banda, Mau, Mathura, Shahjahanpur, Sambhal, Sitapur, Sonbhadra and Hapur, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.
According to the poll body, there are 10,679 candidates in the fray for 738 posts of zila panchayat members in the final phase. A total of 55,408 candidates are contesting for 18,356 posts of kshetra panchayat members.
While 1,14,400 candidates are in the fray for posts of gram panchayat members, 3,47,436 contestants are fighting for 1,77,648 posts in gram panchayat wards, it said.
The candidates will contest on 'free symbols' given by the State Election Commission.
With inputs from PTI