Phase I: 80% turnout in Bengal, 78% in Assam
Voting in 18 of the 294 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal and 65 of the 126 seats in Assam was “by and large peaceful” with no reports of violence-related death or injury, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena told reporters in Delhi. Polling in the two states was held amid tight security, including large-scale presence of central para-military forces and aerial surveillance by helicopter-borne personnel in West Bengal.
The first day of polling in West Bengal passed off peacefully on Monday. It was held in 18 constituencies spread over West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura popularly known as Jangalmahal.
Elections were held in six constituencies in West Midnapore, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura. The Election Commission had made elaborate and unprecedented security arrangements to ensure free and fair polling. The political parties, including Trinamool Congress and the Opposition have expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements.
Sunil Gupta, Chief Electoral Officer said that overall turnout was 80.92 per cent. He said the turnout in West Midnapore was 81.66 per cent while Purulia and Bankura witnessed 80.18 per cent and 80.59 per cent. Gupta said that the election was held peacefully. He said no person was arrested and not a single booth was captured. There were also no cases of voter intimidation. In Assam, where Congress under Tarun Gogoi is seeking a fourth straight term, an estimated 78 per cent of little over 95.11 lakh voters cast their ballots. There were no reports of violence from any of the 65 of the 126 constituencies where polling was held in the first phase.
The fate of several prominent Congress candidates, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi from Titabor and Speaker of the outgoing Assembly Pranab Gogoi from Sibsagar will be decided in the first phase. Among others whose constituencies went to poll on Monday include BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from Majuli and the party’s Lok Sabha member from Jorhat Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, who is crossing swords with Tarun Gogoi in Titabor.
Ruling parties and the opposition in the two states voiced confidence about their victory in the polls. West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress expressed satisfaction over the huge turnout and said it was indicative of the ‘silent revolution’ that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had ushered in the state through development.
“The huge turnout in the first part of the first phase proves the silent revolution that Mamata Banerjee has brought in through massive developmental work in the Junglemahal in the last five years,” state pancahayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said.
The Left front too voiced satisfaction over the voting, saying election was “more or less free and fair”.