15.3% voting in Bengal in 3 hours (2nd Ld)


Voter turnout on the first day of polling in West Bengal notched as much as 15.30 per cent in about three hours as 73 lakh electorate began polling for the assembly elections on 30 seats on Saturday.

Long ques were witnessed outside most of the polling booths till 10 a.m. in the first phase of Assembly polls when 191 candidates are in the fray.

The approximate voter turnout trend in Bankura district was 18.36 per cent, Jhargram 16.17, Paschim Medinipur 16.75, Purbo Medinipur 13.70 and Purulia 13.97 per cent, according to the Election Commission’s voter turnout App.

There are seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur — the home ground of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. These seven — Patashpur, Kanthi Uttar, Bhagabanpur, Khejuri, Kanthi Dakshin, Ramnagar and Egra — are ticked off as sensitive.

Polling began at 7 a.m. amid tight security for the first phase when Jungal Mahal area in the south-western fringes that are said to Maoist affected are also voting.

The polls are being closely watched because of prestige battles between Suvendu Adhikari, a former Trinamool Congress man, who is now facing his erstwhile supremo Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram.

Compared to first two hours in the morning, the number of voters increased manifold on polling booths with all section of citizens seen enthusiastically exercising their franchise. There were long queue at many polling booths and things were reportedly peaceful.

Of the five assembly elections scheduled in four states and one Union Territory, West Bengal has the maximum number of seats and highest phases staggered into eight.

As the first phase of polling began on Saturday in the state, other seven phases to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held on April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29. Results will be declared on May 2.

The Election Commission has deployed around 684 companies of central forces that would guard 10,288 polling booths housed in 7,061 premises, officials said.

Besides, the state police is also deployed at strategic locations.