Bypolls pass off peacefully in Bengal; 53.32% turnout in Bhabanipur (Roundup)


Barring some sporadic incidents that sparked temporary tension, the by-elections to three Assembly seats in West Bengal, including Bhabanipur where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is a candidate, passed off peacefully on Thursday.

The Election Commission informed that no one was arrested and no arms and ammunition were recovered during the by-elections.

The polling percentage till 5 pm was 78.60 per cent and 76.12 per cent in Samserganj and Jangipur in Murshidabad district, respectively, while Bhabanipur registering a voter turnout of 53.32 per cent.

According to sources in the poll panel, only 57 complaints were registered through out the day, including 23 from Bhabanipur, but all were quashed by the poll authorities.

There was some tension in the Padmapukur area in the Bhabanipur constituency where BJP leader Kalyan Choubey claimed that his car was attacked by Trinamool Congress supporters, but the Election Commission said later that the incident was related to a minor road accident that led to a heated verbal exchange, and it had nothing to do with politics or the by-election there.

There was a minor scuffle at the Khalsa High School in Bhabanipur where the BJP supporters accused the Trinamool workers of trying to push false voters into the polling station.

However, the central force soon intervened and dispersed the gathering near the booth.

After Bhabanipur recorded a low turnout of 8 per cent till 11 am, Trinamool leader Firhad Hakim tweeted urging the voters to come and exercise their franchise.

Another similar tweet was found in the name of senior Trinamool leader Subrata Mukherjee, which the BJP branded as an attempt to influence the voters.

“I cannot tweet. I can simply make phone calls and read and send WhatsApp messages. It is a deep-rooted conspiracy on the part of the BJP which is sure of losing the elections,” Mukherjee said.

Mamata Banerjee voted a little after 4 pm at the Mitra Institution, while her nephew and Trinamool national General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee exercised his franchise at around 3 pm.

Former MLA from Bhabanipur, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, who had resigned to make way for Banerjee, voted at the Manmatha Private School in Kansaripara area a little after 11 am.

Banerjee is required to win the seat in conformity with the constitutional provisions to continue as the Chief Minister of the state, after losing in the Assembly elections held earlier this year from Nandigarm against BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari.