49.70 pc polling till 1 pm in nine LS seats of WB

Kolkata: Election officials wait for a bus with EVM, VVPAT machines and other equipments ahead of the seventh and last phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Kolkata. (Photo PTI

An estimated 49.70 per cent of over 1.49 crore electorate exercised their franchise till 1 pm in nine Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal on Sunday, amid reports of EVM glitches and stray incidents of violence.

Polling is currently underway, amid tight security, in the nine seats Kolkata North, Kolkata South, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Joynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC) in the seventh and final phase of the staggered general election, he said.

Voting is also in progress for by-elections to four Assembly constituencies in Bengal, necessitated due to resignations by sitting MLAs who are contesting the parliamentary polls.

According to BJP's North Kolkata candidate Rahul Sinha, a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park in the constituency around noon, creating panic among voters.

Police, however, said crackers were burst in the area, and polling was underway peacefully.

In Kolkata south, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was stopped from entering polling booths.

Sporadic clashes were reported in Kolkata and its surrounding areas, with TMC workers claiming that voters were being intimidated by the central forces outside booths.

Nilanjan Roy, the BJP's Diamond Harbour constituency candidate, alleged that his car was vandalized in Budge Budge.

Similar reports also arrived from Jadavpur constituency, where BJP candidate Anupam Hazra's car came under the attack.

Of the nine constituencies, Basirhat recorded the highest turnout at 53.97 per cent, followed by Mathurapur at 53.78 per cent, Barasat at 53.59 per cent, Diamond Harbour at 52.44, Dum Dum at 49.31, Joynagar (SC) at 48.64 per cent, Jadavpur at 48.09 per cent, Kolkata South at 43.8 per cent.

Kolkata North registered the lowest turnout till 1 pm at 43.68 per cent.

"Polling has by and large been peaceful in the nine Lok Sabha seats. No complaints of violence were reported from any of the polling booths," an election official said.

"There were, however, reports of EVM glitches in several polling stations. We have sent reserve EVMs to the booths, where the voting process was temporarily hampered due to technical glitches," he told PTI.

A total of 1,49,63,064 electorate will decide the fate of 111 candidates in the final phase, the official said.

Altogether 710 companies of Central forces have been deployed at 17,042 polling booths in the state to ensure free and fair voting, he added.

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