Huge turnout in largely peaceful fifth phase polling in Bengal

Kolkata, April 17 (IANS) Though there were some stray incidents but the state recorded huge polling in the fifth phase of the election. The final figures are yet to come but the voters’ turnout recorded by the commission shows that there was 78.36 percent polling till 5 p.m. on Saturday evening.
According to the data released by the commission, Jalpaiguri registered the highest voting percentage of 81.73 percent followed by East Burdwan with 81.72 percent. Nadia witnessed 81.57 percent voting while North 24 Parganas and Darjeeling had 74.83 and 74.32 percent voting respectively. Kalimpong recorded the lowest turnout with 69.56 percent.
There were altogether 319 candidates from different political parties in the fifth phase of polls that was conducted in 45 constituencies including 7 in Jalpaiguri, 5 in Darjeeling, 1 in Kalimpong, 8 in Nadia, 16 in North 24 Parganas and 8 in East Burdwan.
Though overall the voting was peaceful all over the state, there were some sporadic incidents including the arrest of an Independent candidate of Chakdah AC in Nadia district for having a firearm in his possession. “Koushik Bhowmick, the candidate was found going around a polling booth at Baliadanga, Daspara area with a country made gun tucked in his trousers. He dropped the firearm when the central forces intercepted him after the local people raised a hue and cry,” CEO Ariz Aftab told the media after the election.
Incidentally a booth agent of the BJP Abhijit Samanta died after falling sick at a polling station in Kamarhati, North 24 Parganas district. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead. In another incident three persons were arrested when one person identified as Haran Gaur was attacked near Santipur police station area in Nadia district in which he sustained leg injuries. He was taken to a hospital.
Supporters of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clashed with each other at Shanti Nagar in Bidhannagar in North 24 Parganas district. The supporters of both the parties resorted to stone pelting and physically assaulted each other. A huge police force accompanied by the central forces reached the spot and brought the situation under control.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) also referred to an incident where a TMC booth agent at Galsi in East Burdwan district was beaten up allegedly by BJP supporters when he tried to stop them from proxy voting at a polling booth in Jahanpur.
“The Commission has received 2,241 complaints through various platforms today (Saturday) and 123 people have been arrested including 100 preventive arrests.” the CEO said.
When asked about complaints by a number of candidates that they were prevented from entering polling booths by the central forces, the CEO said that the forces have been issued clear cut instructions that candidates should not be stopped from entering polling booths. The TMC candidate from Kamarhati, Madan Mitra and the BJP nominee from Baranagar Parno Mitra were allegedly initially prevented from entering booths.
The 45 assembly seats that witnessed voting are expected to see a close fight with the TMC leading in 23 against the BJP’s 22 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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