Longer queues outside ATMs than polling booths
A high voter turnout of 81 per cent was recorded in the by-elections held in two Lok Sabha and one assembly constituency in West Bengal on Saturday. The elections, though, ended under the shadow of the Centre’s demonetisation drive.
An average of 81 per cent polling was recorded till 5 pm, with 77 and 81 per cent in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies and 86 per cent in Monteswar Assembly seat, the Election Commission said.
“The polling percentage till 1 pm in the Lok Sabha constituencies of Cooch Behar and Tamluk was 51.1 per cent and 50.91 per cent respectively. The percentage for Monteshwar Assembly seat was 58.57 per cent,” said an Election Commission official.
Around 36 per cent votes were polled till 11 am on Saturday in the by-poll of two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seat in Bengal.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP, Left Front and Congress fielded their candidates in the by-poll. Although Congress and CPI (M) had contested the last Assembly polls together, the two parties decided to part companies in this round of by-elections.
Altogether, 39 companies of CRPF personnel were deployed along with large number of state police personnel to ensure foolproof security. However, longer queues could be observed in front of the ATM outlets than at the polling stations in all three constituencies.
No untoward incidents were reported, but the Opposition parties alleged unhindered vote loots in some places.
The CPI (M) leaders alleged that their polling agents were beaten up and stopped from entering the stations by the Trinamool Congress supporters at several places in Tamluk constituency including Haldia, Chaitanyapur and Nandigram. The Trinamool has strongly denied the accusations.
BJP leaders alleged the ruling party intimidated their supporters to keep them away from the vote booths in Manteshwar Assembly seat.
An electorate of 3,524,977, including 1,689,735 women and 38 from the third gender, were eligible to choose their representatives from among 23 candidates in Cooch Behar (Reserved-Scheduled Castes) and Tamluk parliamentary constituencies and Monteshwar Assembly seat. Cooch Behar has the maximum number of contestants (10), followed by Tamluk (seven) and Monteshwar (six).
The Cooch Behar parliamentary constituency fell vacant after the death of Trinamool Congress MP Renuka Sinha, while Tamluk was vacant as the incumbent MP Suvendu Adhikari became a minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet. Trinamool Congress MLA Sajal Panja’s death caused the Monteshwar assembly by-poll. The vote count is on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Left Front demanded re-election in Cooch Behar.