The fourth phase of election passed off peacefully on Monday without any violence or intimidation of voters or booth jamming.
Sunil Gupta, chief electoral officer said in North 24 Parganas 79.16 per cent polling was recorded till 5 pm while in Howrah it was 75.46%. The overall polling percentage was 78.05. Over 1.08 crore people exercised their franchise. There were 345 candidates of which there are 8 ministers. There were 672 companies of Central Forces were deployed along with 22,000 state police to conduct free and fair election. To conduct Monday’s poll, 59,063 polling personnel were deployed. Three presiding officers were removed.
Gupta said 4,173 complaints were lodged of which 4,023 complained were disposed. He said most of the complaints relating to intimidation of voters were found to be false. In Khardah (booth nos 175/176) there was allegation that TMC supporters had been threatening voters. EC officials went to the spot and found the allegation to be baseless. Similarly, in Dum Dum (booth nos 60/61) allegations were made that CPI(M) polling agents were not allowed to sit inside the booth. EC officials went to the spot and found these allegations to be false as well. In Howrah North, allegations of intimidation of voters were lodged which, however, were later found to be false on inquiry by the EC officials.
In Halisahar, a section of vernacular television channel had telecast that bombs had been hurled. On investigation this was found to be false as well. The media also telecast that CPI(M) workers were being beaten up by TMC workers in Madhyamgram (booth numbers 231). Later it was found to be false. Allegations were made that three CPI(M) poling agents went missing in Minakha. The EC team and police went to the spot and found the allegations to be false. They found that one polling agent was inside the booth while the other one left following complaints of uneasiness while the third one was found in his residence.
Tanmay Bhattacharya, CPI(M) candidate from Dum Dum North constituency was attacked by miscreants at Nimta. Four were arrested in this connection. His car was damaged, said ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma. He said a total of 229 people were arrested out of which 22 were held on the basis of specific complaints while another 207 persons were arrested on preventive ground.
Soma Das, a voter in North Howrah lodged an FIR against Roopa Ganguly after she reportedly assaulted her. Gupta said ECI had kept in touch constantly with him and sought reports of the incidents. On some occasions the ECI monitored on its own.
Monday’s election will decide the fate of eight ministers and important players like former Finance minister Asim Dasgupta and Arunava Ghosh. While Dasgupta was pitted against his successor Amit Mitra, Ghosh’s rival was Sujit Basu, the sitting TMC MLA. There were unprecedented security arrangements in Salt Lake. Every vehicle that had entered the area and those that came out were checked and papers examined.
Leaders of all the parties congratulated the EC the measures it had taken to conduct free and fair election.
Other leading names include former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Vaishali, former Bengal cricket captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla, footballer Dipendu Biswas and Bidhannagar
Providing some relief, temperature in Kolkata was down by a couple of notches at 36.6 degrees. The discomfort level was, however, quite high owing to the high level of humidity.