Nearly 80% turnout in first phase of Bengal polls

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Kolkata, March 27 (IANS) Amid sporadic incidents of violence, an estimated 79.79 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 5.30 pm in the first phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal on Saturday, the Election Commission (EC) officials said here.
According to EC sources, about 80.03 per cent of the electorate voted in Bankura, 80.55 per cent in Jhargram, 80.16 per cent in West Midnapore and 82.42 per cent in East Midnapore district.
Polling booths across the states opened at 7 am and closed at 6 pm as timings were extended by an hour due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
Jhargram, Midnapore, Patashpur and Ramnagar were among the key segments where voting took place in the first phase. Polling was largely peaceful, though some stray incidents of violence were reported from some areas.
Meanwhile, a BJP delegation met the EC officials here protesting against an attack on BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu Adhikari. Soumendu has accused the Trinamool Congress of causing trouble at Contai and said that he was attacked when he tried to stop the Trinamool supporters, who were allegedly driving away the voters.
“Elections should be free and fair. The state’s ruling Trinamool Congress is scared. We have given some names to the EC to take necessary action,” Soumendu said.
“This is the most peaceful elections I have seen in Bengal in the last four decades. Yes, there have been a few sporadic incidents but those were due to some anti-social elements. If that section of anti-social elements can be arrested, there will be no more problem for the voters in the rest of the phases of polling,” BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargi said, as he congratulated the poll panel for conducting a free and peaceful elections in the first phase.
Earlier, a Trinamool Congress delegation led by the party’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Mala Roy met the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Kolkata and raised concerns over the difference in the figures provided by the EC. The delegation demanded that from the next phase, the polling agent must be a local of the concerned polling booth so that it becomes easy for all to track them.
The Trinamool Congress also questioned the EC on how the voting percentage reduced drastically to half within five minutes. “What is happening @ECISVEEP?! Could you explain how voting percentage drastically reduced to half within a gap of just 5 minutes?! Shocking!,” it tweeted.
“Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress is under pressure and complaining about EVMs because they know they are losing…that is why they are saying such things,” BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh told mediapersons.

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