Nearly 80 per cent voter turnout in Phase 2 of WB polls

Nearly 80 per cent voter turnout in Phase 2 of WB polls

Nearly 80 per cent voter turnout in Phase 2 of WB polls
In a heavy turnout amid reports of sporadic violence, close to 80 per cent of the electorate cast their votes till 5 PM in the election to 56 West Bengal Assembly constituencies in the second phase.

Overall, 79.70 per cent voters exercised their franchise in six districts of north Bengal and Birbhum of south Bengal till 5 PM.

In Alipurduar, 82.07 per cent voting were recorded, in Jalpaiguri 77.69 per cent, Darjeeling 74, North Dinajpur 78.90, South Dinajpur 82.72, Malda 79.60 per cent and Birbhum 82.89.

In seven constituencies of Birbhum, affected by left-wing extremism, polling concluded early at 4 PM as a precautionary measure. Voting went on till 6 PM in the remaining seats.

After compilation and scrutiny, final voting percentage figures will be available tomorrow, sources said.

Controversial Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mandal, who has been put under round-the-clock surveillance by the Election Commission, faced the ire of the poll panel for not following their instructions.

Two FIRs- one for going out of his constituency despite warning and another one for going to cast vote sporting party symbol on his kurta - are being lodged against him.

Besides sporadic cases of violence, poll boycott call over local developmental issues was also given at a handful of booths in Malda and Birbhum.

"But they were persuaded to vote after which normal polling proceeded," West Bengal's chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta said.

In the second phase, over 1.2 crore electorate will decide the fate of 383 candidates, including 33 women.  

ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma said during the day 14 arrests were made in specific cases and another 18 arrests were made under preventive sections.

Out of 13,645 polling stations during the phase, 5090 had been identified as critical ones by the EC.

Altogether 16315 voters were found to be vulnerable voters based on their complaints of being intimidated. 3827 trouble makers, responsible for issuing threats, were "bound down" by the authorities.

High-profile electoral battle in this phase was at Siliguri where its mayor and former CPI-M minister Ashok Bhattacharya is contesting against former Indian football captain and TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia.

State ministers Gautam Deb, Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury and Sabitri Mitra are also in the poll fray in this phase of election.

Soumitra Ray, singer of popular Bengali band 'Bhoomi', actors Joy Banerjee and Locket Chatterjee and singer Suman Banerjee are also trying their luck in the electoral arena.

CEO Gupta said there were fewer incidents in this phase because additional central security forces were despatched to the state.

"The visibility (of security personnel) was very high this time. It was a conscious effort. Mobile units were also mobilised in a bigger way and so was area domination," he said.

About 800 companies of central forces are spread over different parts of the state for the polls.

In Malda, a clash between CPI(M) and TMC supporters took place in front of a booth in the Englishbazar Assembly seat, in which two persons, including a TMC polling agent, were injured, police said.

Trouble began when the TMC polling agent protested against alleged booth jamming by CPI(M). The two sides clashed with lathis outside the booth with the central forces finding it difficult to control them, polling officials said.

TMC polling agent Anup Sarkar was injured and admitted to the Malda Medical College and Hospital.

TMC polling agent Asraful Hossain was beaten up at a booth in Chanchal constituency of Malda district allegedly by ex-pradhan Maqbul Hossain of Congress, polling officials said.  

As a result, polling was temporarily stalled.

Hossain has since been arrested, the police said.

Earlier in the morning, a clash between BJP and TMC workers left eight persons injured in Dumrut village of Birbhum at around 6 AM before polling began, an EC report said.

Three persons were later arrested by the police.

TMC candidate from Siliguri Assembly constituency Bhaichung Bhutia complained of bogus votes being cast at Sriguru Vidyapith booth and a complaint has been registered with EC.

During the day, a polling personnel died in Alipurduar due to stroke.

In Malda's Englishbazar area, there were complaints that the presiding officer was helping people cast their votes after which he was removed, officials said.

Altogether 1001 complaints were received by the commission during the day out of which 966 were disposed of.

The first phase of polling in West Bengal was held in two parts on April 4 and 11.  

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