75.06% Voter Turnout Recorded in Phase 7, Mamata Says ‘TMC Will Win’
A total of 75.06 per cent voter turnout was registered on Monday in phase seven of the West Bengal Assembly polls, the Election Commission said. The poll panel noted that the turnout figures were provisional and were recorded at 5 pm when the voting was still on. Polling was held “peacefully” in 11,376 polling stations spread across 34 constituencies in West Bengal.
In a statement, the poll panel said 5,982 (52.58 per cent) out of 11,376 polling stations were monitored live through webcasting. During the ongoing elections till this phase in West Bengal, a record seizure of Rs 332.94 crore has been reported till date.
Election Commission of India orders repolling in polling station 126 -Amtali Madhyamik Siksha Kendra and 05-Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency. The repolling will be conducted on April 29.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee casted her vote at a polling booth in south Kolkata’s Bhabanipur. Banerjee, a resident of Harish Chatterjee Street, exercised her franchise at a polling booth in Mitra Institution school around 3.50 pm. On a wheelchair, she briefly paused before photojournalists while coming out amid shouts of “Didi, Didi”, before boarding her car and also showed a victory sign towards the cameras.
Banerjee is a two-term MLA from Bhabanipur, but is contesting the elections this time from Nandigram in the Purba Medinipur district, taking on BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari. Earlier in the day, senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, who is the chief minister’s nephew, also voted at the same booth.
Voting is being held at 12,068 polling stations spread over nine assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Paschim Bardhaman districts, six each in Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda and four in Kolkata, the official said.
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, after casting his vote in Kolkata, predicted a 2/3rd majority for the Mamata Banerjee government.
There were minor reports of scuffle from across the state. In Paschim Bardhaman, TMC worker accused the CRPF personnel of beating party workers in front of the booth. CRPFs were not allowing TMC Booth agent in the booth, party workers alleged.
ANI reported that a BJP polling agent Sankar Sakar alleges he was forcefully pushed out of booth no.91 by TMC members and made to leave the spot in Bakhra village of Ratua, Malda. A TMC member says, “He is not a voter here so we asked him to leave respectfully. Nobody threatened him.”
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 April 10, an Election Commission official said. The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 796 companies of central forces in the seventh phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said.
All eyes will be on the Bhabanipur constituency, of which the TMC supremo is the sitting MLA and a resident. Banerjee, however, has opted for Nandigram to contest the elections this time and reposed faith in veteran politician and state power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay to make a hat-trick of wins for the party from Bhabanipur.
Chattopadhyay is pitted against a seasoned actor but a greenhorn in electoral politics, Rudranil Ghosh, who left the ruling party a few months ago to join the BJP. State minister Firhad Hakim is also seeking re- election for a third consecutive term from the Kolkata Port constituency, while the BJP fielded Lt General (Retired) Subrata Saha from the Rashbehari seat in the metropolis.
Campaigning for the seventh 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. Following the surge in coronavirus cases across the country, 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 than 500 people. The Election Commission has curtailed daily campaign hours and extended the “silence period” from 48 hours to 72 in each of the remaining three phases of the assembly polls in view of the Cooch Behar violence and the rising COVID-19 cases.
Polling for two assembly seats in Samserganj and Jangipur in Murshidabad district has been declared void following the deaths of two candidates there.
The Election Commission has fixed May 16 for the polling in these two seats.
The progressive seizure of all five states/UT as on date is Rs 1,035.54 crore (this includes seizures of Rs 12.11 crore in bye-elections also.) Fifteen live bombs were found in the Ballygunge assembly seat with the help of bomb squad anda fog squad. On a tip off, 19 crude bombs were recovered in two bags near Hooghly Jute Mill Colony with the assistance of the Bomb Disposal Squad. Two miscreants carrying seven improvised country made serviceable guns and a “single barrel long musket gun” were arrested in Malda district, the statement said. A total of 11,376 Ballot Units (BUs), 11,376 Control Units(CUs) and 11,376 VVPATs were used in West Bengal during this phase. “Non-functioning rate of EVMs and VVPATs during the poll is comparable to what was experienced in the last few polls,” it said.
One CU, at least one BU and one paper trail machine makes for one EVM.
(With PTI inputs)
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