West Bengal Phase 5 sees over 80% turnout

Battle for states: Mamata up against Left-Cong combine candidate and Netaji's nephew from BJP

West Bengal Phase 5 sees over 80% turnout
The fifth and penultimate phase of polling to the Assembly in West Bengal took place peacefully under a heavy security blanket of around 90,000 Central security forces on Saturday.

Percentage for the day’s polling, which witnessed a number of heavyweights in the fray, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, stood slightly above 80%.

Polling in 53 seats across south Kolkata and the 2 districts of South 24 Parganas and Hooghly was high from the day’s beginning with 38% votes cast within the first four hours.

While the percentage till 5 pm was 76.98 at South 24 Parganas and 78.98 at Hooghly, seats in Kolkata recorded around 64%, significantly lower that the districts, a phenomenon noticed in every election.

Barring a few stray incidents, there were not many complaints of assault or electoral malpractice throughout the day, Election Commission officials said.

The poll panel, however, lodged an FIR against Sonali Ghosh Dastidar, Trinamool Congress candidate from Satgachhia in South 24 Parganas and outgoing deputy Speaker of the House, after she was caught on camera instructing party workers to beat CPM polling agents.

The matter came to light after a Bengali news channel aired a part of the phone conversation in which she was heard saying, “Beat them and throw out the CPM agents. They have damaged the EVM.”

While around 1.2 crore voters stood in queues outside around 14,500 polling booths, braving high temperature and humidity, all eyes were on Bhawanipore in south Kolkata, Mamata’s home seat, where she is contesting against Left-Congress coalition candidate Deepa Dasmunshi and BJP’s Chandra Kumar Bose, grand-nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Interestingly, this is the first time the veteran CPM leader and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPM Politburo member Mohd Salim will have cast their vote in favour of Congress because of the coalition.

With no Left nominees in fray at their respective constituencies, Bhattacharjee would have voted for Congress candidate Krishna Debnath at the Ballygunge seat and Salim would have voted for Dasmunshi at Bhawanipore.

Incidentally, Dasmunshi lost to Salim while fighting for her home seat of Raigunge in North Dinajpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The fifth phase also witnessed polling at Singur, which acted as Mamata’s stepping-stone to power, when she launched a movement against land acquisition from the small hamlet in Hooghly.

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