79 percent polling in Bengal third phase, violence leaves one dead (Intro Roundup)

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Kolkata, April 21 (IANS) Incidents of violence claimed one life and left many people injured on Thursday, as West Bengal recorded a high voter turnout of over 79 percent in phase three of the assembly elections, notwithstanding a scorching sun and energy-sapping humidity.

Accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in rigging, the Left Front and the Congress demanded repolling in 15 booths of Domkal constituency in Murshidabad district. The Trinamool denied the allegation.

A total of 62 constituencies went to the polls on Thursday — 22 in Murshidabad, 17 in Nadia, 16 in Burdwan districts and seven in north Kolkata.

“At 5 p.m., the overall polling percentage was 79.22 percent,” Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said.

“The turnout in Murshidabad was 79.29 percent, Nadia 81.62 percent, Burdwan 78.26 percent, and Kolkata (North) 57.06 percent,” said Gupta.

A Communist Party of India-Marxist activist, Tahidul, was killed following a “sharp cut injury” in Domkal.

Ten people were injured in various incidents, and 232 were arrested, said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma.

“Of them, 169 were arrested in the districts and 63 in Kolkata. The number of arrests under preventive sections of the Indian Penal Code was 225, while seven others had specific cases against them.”

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Gupta said seven presiding officers — five from Burdwan and two from Murshidabad — were removed for “inefficiency” and to speed up the polling process.

At a press conference in Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said an FIR was registered against two Trinamool Congress leaders, Abdul Mannan Hossain and Anwar Khan, for violating the model code of conduct.

Khan, who had reportedly abused the Election Commission, was later arrested, he said.

A block level officer, Rabindranath Ghosh, died of heatstroke in Burdwan’s Mangalkot constituency.

Election Commission officials received 2,777 complaints, including those of violence, voter intimidation and disruption of the poll process. Altogether 2,322 complaints have been disposed of.

Regarding the killing in Domkal, the district administration in its report to the Election Commission said the victim died of sharp cut injury and he was murdered by unknown people and the body placed on the road.

CPI-M candidate from Domkal Anisur Rahaman claimed the deceased was his polling agent and blamed the Trinamool Congress for the killing, but the ruling party said the death resulted from a clash between the CPI-M and the Congress supporters. The district administration denied that Tahidul was a polling agent.

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Besides, at least four others were attacked in Domkal allegedly for casting their votes.

Reports of violence were also received from Ketugram in Burdwan district where three people sutained injuries after crude bombs were hurled near a polling booth.

At least four people were injured in Mangalkote of Burdwan with Trinamool’s Siddiqullah Chowdhury accusing the CPI-M for the attack.

Complaints of voter intimidation and scuffles between rival political activists were also received from several booths in Kolkata, including Beliaghta and Entally. A mediaperson was among the injured.

Union minister Babul Supriyo faced angry protests and was heckled allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers outside a polling booth here when he came to cast his vote.

Trinamool vice president Mukul Roy praised the Election Commission for ensuring a high turnout.

Left Front spearhead Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said there were disturbances in six-seven constituencies, but expressed overall satisfaction over the role of the Election Commission. State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury seconded Mishra’s demand for repoll at Domkal.

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Over 1.37 crore (1,37,42,000) voters were eligible to elect their legislators across 16,461 polling stations, including 10 auxiliary booths, from among 418 candidates, including 34 women.

The Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party contested in all 62 constituencies in the third phase.

The Left Front-Congress alliance was in fray for all the 62 constituencies. But the Congress nominees also contested against those from the Left Front in 11 seats — 10 in Murshidabad and one in Nadia.

Among the major candidates in the third phase were state ministers and Trinamool contestants Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay, Sashi Panja, Sadhan Pandey, former state minister and CPI-M candidates Anisur Rahaman and Debesh Das, Congress legislature party leader Mohammad Sohrab and former state party president Somendranath Mitra, and BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.

Earlier, voters in 105 of the state’s total 294 assembly constituencies exercised their right to franchise on April 4, 11 and 17 in the first two phases.

Polling in the fourth, fifth and sixth phases will be held on April 25, 30 and May 5 for 49, 53 and 25 constituencies, respectively.



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