1st phase concludes with nearly 80% turnout, polling peaceful
Kolkata: Barring some stray incidents, the first phase of elections spanning across 30 Assembly constituencies covering 10,288 polling stations passed off peacefully on Saturday. There was nearly 80 per cent voting till 5 pm much to the satisfaction of the Commission.
191 candidates from different political parties are in the fray covering parts of East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Bankura and the whole of Purulia and Jhargram districts.
The Election Commission announced that the overall voting percentage till 5 pm was 79.79 per cent. East Midnapore recorded the highest voting percentage of 82.51, Jhargram had 80.55 per cent voting, Paschim Midnapore 80.12, Bankura 79.90 and Purulia 77.09 per cent.
"The polling percentage is expected to rise over 80 per cent with elections being held till 6.30 pm," a senior EC official said.
A section of voters alleged rigging of EVMs at a polling booth at Majna Madrasah in South Kanthi Assembly constituency stating that whichever button they pressed, the vote was being recorded in favour of the BJP. They alleged that the VVPAT showed that all votes were cast in favour of BJP. The presiding officer visited the spot and resolved the issue with the VVPAT and voting resumed after some time. The Commission, however, clarified that there was no glitch with the EVM.
TMC alleged that BJP tried to disturb the peaceful vote process at a number of locations. Abhijit Adak (Block youth president) of TMC who was on his way to Bakch Gram Panchayat at Moyna in East Midnapore for campaigning along with Sachindranath Mondal (Karmadhyaksh) who were allegedly picked up by BJP workers at Kripanandapur around 11:30 am and were taken to remote area of Bakcha where they were beaten up by the saffron party cadres and freed after an hour or so. Adak has been hospitalised and an FIR has been initiated at a local police station.
BJP voters allegedly manhandled the EVM by continuously turning the machine facing them at Gopiballavpur Assembly seat in Jhargram resulting in a problem among voters. The presiding officer intervened to restore normalcy.
At a polling booth at Bhagabanpur in East Midnapore, the BJP allegedly applied colour over the TMC slot of the machine. The booth agents of TMC under Arjun Nagar Gram Panchayat in Bhagabanpur were allegedly prevented from entering a number of polling booths by the BJP who intimidated them.
The TMC further alleged excesses on part of the Central forces in some areas and claimed that they were trying to influence voters to vote in favour of BJP. "We are not aware of any such allegation, if there is any specific complaint we will surely examine," state CEO Ariz Aftab said.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari's brother Soumendu's vehicle was allegedly vandalised at Kanthi and his driver sustained injuries. Adhikari blamed TMC for the attack. CPI(M) candidate from Salboni Susanta Ghosh was heckled and stones were hurled aiming at his car allegedly by TMC supporters near Salboni bazaar.
The Commission also informed that a clash between TMC and BJP broke out at Patashpur on Friday late night in which an SI of the police station and an SSB guard were injured. The Central forces intervened and brought the situation under control.
The police have arrested 10 persons in connection with these three incidents of sporadic violence.
The death of one Mangal Soren was reported from Keshiary and his body was found in the courtyard of his own residence. The district administration primary report ruled out any political connection with the death though the victim's family members alleged that it was a political murder. "The post mortem will reveal the actual cause of death," the CEO said. There were complaints of EVM malfunctioning at booth 212 in Jhargram due to electricity issues. The Commission allowed extra time to the voters to compensate for the loss of voting hours.