Bengal bypolls: Polling underway, peaceful in first 2 hours

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Polling for the bypolls for Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge Assembly constituencies in West Bengal on Tuesday have been more or less peaceful with hardly any reports of poll-related irregularities.

The polling began at 7 a.m.

According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the polling percentage for Asansol Lok Sabha till 9 a.m. was 13 per cent and in Ballygunge Assembly constituency it was eight per cent.

In the morning, the BJP candidate from Ballygunge, Keya Ghosh complained to the Election Commission of India about the presence of Kolkata Police personnel within a couple of election booths. The office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal, after looking into the matter rejected the applications, Ghosh’s closest contenders for Ballygunge Assembly by polls are Trinamool Congress’ Babul Supriyo and the CPI-M’s Saira Shah Halim.

The BJP candidate from Asansol, Agnimitra Paul, also made a similar complaint of the presence of state police personnel in certain booths of the constituencies. Trinamool Congress filed a counter-complaint against Paul of going to cast her vote being escorted by armed security personnel allotted for her. Trinamool has fielded popular Bollywood star, Shatrughan Sinha from Asansol this time. The CPI-M candidate from Asansol is Partha Mukherjee.

On Tuesday morning, the office of the CEO received a complaint about the person escorting an ailing voter pressing the EVM voter on behalf of the voters. The CEO ordered an action taken report (ATR) on this count. Later the presiding officer of the said booth was also replaced by the CEO.

Similarly, Supriyo complained to the CEO, West Bengal that he was prevented by the central forces personnel at a booth in Ballygunge assembly constituency.

The CEO office has sought an ATR on this count as well.

In another development, at another booth in the Barabani area under Asansol Lok Sabha, tension broke out between the BJP and Trinamool supporters after the BJP candidate, Agnimitra Paul reached the booth. Following the clashes between the supporters of the two parties, the vehicle of Paul was damaged and one of her bodyguards was injured. The CEO office has sought an ATR on this count as well.

Webcasting is being conducted in 100 per cent of the booths in Ballygunge and 51 per cent of the booths in Asansol.

While Ballygunge Assembly constituency has a total 300 booths, the number in case of Asansol Lok Sabha constituency is 2,102. A total of 23 booths in Ballygunge have been declared as sensitive. The number of identified sensitive booths in the case of Asansol is 680.

Ballygunge has 40 micro-observers and Asansol has 442. A total of 133 companies of the central armed forces have been deployed for the bypolls, out of which 116 companies are allotted to Asansol and the remaining 17 companies to Ballygunge.

Results for the bypolls will be declared on April 16.

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