Poll passes peacefully with 70.1% voting
Kolkata: By-election in Maheshtala was conducted peacefully with 70.1 percent voting, which is expected to be a bit higher after compilation of reports from all booths.
"The elections have been peaceful. We had made strong security arrangements with every single booth being manned by Central Paramilitary Force (CPF) and state police. There were problems with some of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, but we have taken immediate steps to replace them," said Aariz Aftab, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Bengal.
It may be mentioned that a good number of VVPAT machines had encountered problems after the commencement of elections and the election process had been stalled for some time in a number of booths.
"However, they were replaced soon and the process was started," an official in the CEO's office said.
There were 10 companies of CPF deployed for the Maheshtala bypoll. In premises with one or two booths, there were 4 CPF jawans with one state police.
In premises with 4 booths, there were 6 jawans along with state police and in premises with 5 or more booths, there were as many as 12 jawans with a number of state police personnel.
Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee said that the party has written to EC, urging it to ensure that no voters are denied their voting rights due to flaws in EVM machines.
"Many people were found in queues even after 5 pm. We hope that the EC will give them the chance to exercise their democratic rights, in the wake of snag in a number of machines," Chatterjee added.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting MLA Kasturi Das. Maheshtala is witnessing a triangular contest among Trinamool Congress, BJP and Left Front.
TMC has fielded Dulal Das, the husband of the deceased MLA, while BJP has nominated Sujit Ghosh. Left Front has fielded Prabhat Chowdhury, with Congress backing him.
The counting for the election will be held on Thursday.