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West Bengal polls: Over 84 pc turnout in last phase

Over 58 lakh voters across 6,774 polling stations, decided fate of 170 candidates

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: May 5 2016 11:51AM | Updated Date: May 5 2016 8:34PM

West Bengal polls: Over 84 pc turnout in last phase

Thousands of voters, including from the erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar, cast their maiden votes in the sixth and final phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections on Thursday.

 

Over 84 percent of the 58,04,019 voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm across 25 constituencies of Cooch Behar (nine) and East Midnapore districts (16), to bring the curtains down on the staggered month-long polls to the 294-member legislature in state.

 

As many as 170 candidates, including 18 women, were in the fray.

 

There were some incidents of irregularities with opposition parties accusing ruling Trinamool Congress of resorting to malpractices since balloting began at 7 a.m. 

 

But the day belonged to the voters from 51 erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar, who were registered as electors for the first time since the country's Independence.

 

Doddering and frail but nevertheless beaming with pride, 103-year-old Mohammed Ajgar Ali - from Mosaldanga in Dinhata constituency - led three generations of his family in casting their maiden votes.

 

Perhaps the oldest first-time voter in the country, Ali is one of newly registered electors from the erstwhile enclaves in Cooch Behar district.

Accompanied by his grandson Joynal Abedin and son Bilal, Ali was brought in a special vehicle provided by the Election Commission to a booth at Mansab Seoragudi Primary School in Mosaldanga.

 

As he sat down on the floor momentarily, tense eyes darted to the centenarian. However, helped by officials, he was up on his feet and flashed a victory symbol accentuated with a toothless smile.

 

"Perhaps I have lived for so long only to see this day. When I woke up early in the day, I couldn't stand properly but now that I have voted, I can die in peace," said Ali struggling to hide his emotions.

 

Enclaves were swapped with Bangladesh after the Land Boundary Agreement was implemented in 2015.

Trinamool candidate from Cooch Behar's Natabari Rabindra Nath Ghosh landed himself in controversy when he was caught on camera threatening a polling officer inside the polling booth.

 

In a video broadcast by a TV channel, he is seen verbally intimidating the polling official and even asking him where he was employed.

 

In East Midnapore, thousands turned up in over 4,000 disabled voter-friendly booths, aided by the Election Commission's special initiatives.

 

In Moyna seat, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) alleged that its polling agent's house was vandalised by Trinamool supporters. The Trinamool, in meantime, accused the Congress of overwhelming several booths in the constituency.

 

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

 

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

 

The main attention is on Nandigram, where a peasants stir in 2006-07 against the then Left Front government's effort to acquire farmland for a chemical hub and a special economic zone led to police firing that led to 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 seats. The Congress got one, while Left Front partner Forward Bloc triumphed in four seats.

 

This time, the Left Front and the Congress have teamed up against the Trinamool.

  

The votes will be counted on May 19.