Overall situation peaceful as Bengal votes in civic polls

Overall situation peaceful as Bengal votes in civic polls

Kolkata/ English Bazar/ Jalpaiguri: Except for a few stray incidents, polling was being held peacefully in the 108 civic bodies across West Bengal on Sunday morning, an election official said.

The polling began at 7 am and will continue till 5 pm, he said.

Till 11 am, 33.52 per cent votes were cast across 2,171 wards amid tight security, he said.

-"Apart from a few stray incidents, polling has so far been peaceful. No incidents of violence have been reported. We noted some disturbances from a few areas and took action,-" the senior official of the State Election Commission said.

Few outsiders were found in queues at some polling booths in Barrackpore and Dum Dum municipalities in North 24 Parganas district.

In Bhatpara municipality, the pocket borough of BJP MP Arjun Singh, the situation was tense as sporadic clashes erupted between TMC and BJP supporters.

A BJP candidate smashed an EVM, alleging rigging by TMC members, in one of the wards. The TMC denied the allegations of foul play.

In Malda district, wards 4, 8 and 12 of English Bazar Municipality witnessed some tensions with the police acting swiftly to manage the situation. BJP candidate of ward 8 Sanjay Sharma alleged that the booths in Ramkrishna Mission School were captured by the TMC, a charge the ruling party rubbished.

Congress leader Isha Khan Chowdhury alleged that TMC supporters were not allowing the party's ward 15 candidate to enter polling station 155.

In Jalpaiguri Municipality's ward 12, Congress candidate Narayan Chandra Sarkar alleged that he was thrown out of a booth by police, while TMC members were campaigning at the same place for their party's candidate.

Long queues were seen outside most booths as people turned up early in large numbers for casting their votes.

A total of 44,000 police personnel have been deployed for the civic polls, with at least one armed police in every booth.

In all, 135 observers, including 10 special senior observers and 108 general observers, are keeping a close watch on the polling.

Around 95.6 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 8,160 candidates.

The ruling TMC is up against BJP, CPI(M)-led Left Front and Congress. Unable to secure party tickets, many TMC leaders are fighting as Independents.

Polling was not held in 103 wards as TMC won most of these seats uncontested.

The votes will be counted on March 2.

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