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West Bengal polls: At least 22 PC turnout in first 2 hrs

Polling is on in 49 constituencies of the state. As many as 345 candidates are in fray

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Apr 25 2016 11:32AM | Updated Date: Apr 25 2016 3:52PM

West Bengal polls: At least 22 PC turnout in first 2 hrs

 Voters standing in queue to cast their votes in Salt Lake, Kolkata. (Photo: ANI)

 
At least 22 percent turnout was recorded in the first two hours after polling began in 49 constituencies spread over two districts - Howrah and North 24 Parganas - in phase four of the West Bengal assembly elections on Monday.
 
"Till 9.00 a.m., 21.87 percent turnout was recorded, with 22.63 percent in North 24 Parganas and 20.34 percent in Howrah," said an Election Commission (EC) official. 
 
Even as EC claimed the polls to be peaceful so far, the BJP and the Congress alleged false voting in some of the booths.
 
BJP's Roopa Ganguly, who is contesting from Howrah North, alleged false voting in one of the booths.
 
Her rival from Trinamool, retired international cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, denied the charges and also claimed that polling was peaceful in the constituency.
 
North 24 Parganas, a part of which falls under the world's largest mangrove forests - the Sundarbans - has 33 constituencies. The remaining 16 are in Howrah.
 
Over 1.08 crore (1,08,16,942) voters across 12,481 polling stations, including 27 auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 345 candidates - 40 of them female - between 7.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. 
 
The Election Commission has used 14,353 electronic voting machines (EVM) and 680 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).
 
A total of 672 companies of central forces and 23,000 state police personnel have been deployed, in addition to other measures, to ensure free and fair polls in the two districts, considered volatile in view of their history of political clashes and poll-related disturbances in past elections.
 
In the 2011 Assembly polls, the Trinamool – which was then an ally of the Congress - had bagged 43 of the 49 seats. The Congress had got two, the Left Front spearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist three and the Communist Party of India one.
 
Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party are in fray in all constituencies. Left Front constituents and the Congress are contesting 46 seats, leaving one seat to Janata Dal-United, besides backing two independents.
 
Khardah in North 24 Parganas district is yet again witnessing a battle between two economists - state finance, industries and information technology minister Amit Mitra of the Trinamool and Asim Dasgupta of the CPI-M.
 
In Bidhannagar, the Congress has nominated renowned lawyer Arunava Ghosh, who is taking on sitting legislator Sujit Bose of the Trinamool.
 
Another constituency hogging the limelight is Kamarhati, from where Saradha scam accused Madam Mitra, now in custody, is in the race on a Trinamool ticket.
 
Among major candidates are a number of state ministers and BJP's only sitting legislator Samik Bhattacharya.
 
The Trinamool has given nomination to former India footballer Dipendu Biswas (Basirhat South), and late Board of Control for Cricket in India president Jagmohan Dalmiya's daughter Baishali Dalmiya (Bally).
 
Earlier, voters in 167 of the state's total 294 assembly constituencies exercised their right to franchise on April 4, 11,17 and 21 in the first three phases.
 
Voting in the, fifth and sixth phases will be held on April 30 and May 5 for 53 and 25 constituencies, respectively.