Over 84 pc turnout in WB phase-1

Over 84 pc turnout in WB phase-1

Assembly Elections 2011: Fate of ten ministers sealed

Over 84 pc turnout in WB phase-1

In one of the most incident-free elections that was ever witnessed in this politically volatile eastern state, the response of the electorate to the call of electoral duty surpassed many a previous record in the 54 constituencies spread over six northern districts – Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda.

“The average polling touched 84.11 per cent till the last reports reached the Election Commission headquarters here," a senior EC official said. " And polling continued beyond 6 pm, an hour after polling officially ended.”

Sources quoting the chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta said the polling figure was higher than the 82.77 per cent recorded in the 2006 assembly polls and in the 2009 elections to the Lok Sabha when 81.84 per cent voters exercised their democratic rights in the six districts.

“The polling was by and large peaceful with no report of any major untoward incident so far. Paramilitary troopers are posted in all 12,131 polling booths, of which 1,800 have been identified as critical. The election officials in the CEO's office are directly monitoring the polling process in 150 out of 1,800 critical booths,” joint chief electioral officer Dibyendu Sarkar said.

According to sources in the CEO’s office, South Dinajpur recorded the highest polling percentage of 89 per cent followed by  Jalpaiguri 86, Cooch Behar 85, Maldah 82, North Dinajpur 81  and Darjeeling 78 percent till the last reports came in.

Polling began at 7 am in some places, people cast their vote in candlelight due to power cuts, and in about 35 polling booths, electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunctioned but were set right soon and polling proceeded smoothly.

Dhiman Sarkar, a presiding officer of booth 66A in the Harirampur constituency, was removed after a Trinamool agent complained that he had used another mobile phone and talked to a CPM leader. After investigations, the allegation was found to be true and the presiding officer was removed, South Dinajpur District Magistrate Ashok Kumar Banerjee said.

However, the polling was otherwise brisk, marked with high enthusiasm in the first six hours. As mercury soared, there was a substantial dip in the turnout which picked up later in the afternoon.

Malfunctioning of EVMs was reported from some of the booths in Malda and South Dinajpur and Cooch Bedhar districts and at least, 35 faulty EVMs were replaced quickly. A total of 97, 62,159 electorate are expected to exercise their franchise to elect representatives from among 364 candidates.

In one incident, a CPM worker was injured in a clash with the Trinamool Congress supporters at a booth in the Dabgram Assembly constituency in Siliguri.

Of the 54 seats that went to the polls in the first phase, honours of the10 sitting ministers are at stake.

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