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7-phased polls in Bengal

Kolkata: Bengal will have Lok Sabha polls in seven phases at 42 constituencies across the state. The dates for the Lok Sabha polls were announced by the Election Commission of India on Sunday. In 2014, Bengal had elections in five phases.

The Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal, Ariz Aftab informed in a press conference that Cooch Behar and Alipurduar will go to polls in phase 1 on April 11. Three constituencies, namely Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Raiganj, will have elections in the second phase on April 18, while the five constituencies of Balurghat, Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, Jangipur and Murshidabad will be having polls in phase 3 on April 23.

Berhampore, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Burdwan-Durgapur, Burdwan Purba, Asansol, Bolpur and Birbhum will go to polls in phase 4 on April 29, while Bongaon, Barrackpur Howrah, Uluberia, Hooghly, Sreerampore and Arambag will go to polls in phase 5 on May 6.

In the sixth phase, voting will be held in the eight constituencies of Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Medinipur and Bishnupur on May 12, while the last phase will have elections in the nine constituencies of Dumdum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin and Kolkata Uttar on May 19.

As per sources in the CEO Bengal office, the number of electors in the state is 6,97,60,868. "The total number of polling stations and polling premises in the state will be 78,799 and 53,701 respectively. All polling stations will have adequate EVMs and VVPATs," a senior EC official said.

There will be a toll-free helpline (1950), where any citizen can lodge complaints related to the elections. Sources in the CEO's office said that they will be using vehicles installed with GPS trackers and mobile-based tracking system for transportation of reserve EVMs and VVPATs.

An EVM control room will be set up at the CEO's office and the district election officers' offices where the movement of EVMs and VVPATs would be monitored through GPS monitors and other related IT infrastructure and applications.

In Bengal, the number of polling stations with voice and internet shadow zones are 159 and 1,019 respectively.

Sources in the CEO's office further informed that they will introduce a new 'M3'-type electronic voting machine (EVM) that can "tamper-detect" and will stop functioning if anyone tries to tinker with it. "If anyone tries to meddle with any part of the machine or try to open any screw or any box, it will become dysfunctional," an official added.

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