Barring some minor incidents, the by-elections in 10 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal passed off peacefully.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee cast her vote at a school in the Alipore constituency. Veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu now confined to his home, stayed away from the process.
Chief Electoral Officer Debashis Sen said the final percentage of polling may be higher than the 65 per cent, as queues were noticed at the close of voting hours. The highest polling, at 75 per cent was recorded at Rajgunj in Jalpaiguri district North Bengal.
The lowest — 45 per cent — was at Alipore, an elite residential locality in South Kolkata which was vacated by Trinamool Congress legislator Tapas Pal, who had won by a margin of over 11,00 votes. He is now a Trinamool Congress MP in Lok Sabha.
The CEO said that 12 people were arrested during the day and three polling officers were removed on charges of trying to influence voters. Altogether 45 companies of the Central forces and 75 companies of the State police were deployed to help conduct the polls.
While nine of the seats fell vacant as the legislators got elected to the Lok Sabha in the May elections, one constituency — Belgachia East — had to go to the polls following the death of former Transport Minister and senior party CPI(M) leader Subhas Chakraborty.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) fielded candidates in five of the constituencies and nominees of the Communist Party of India are in the fray in two constituencies. Candidates representing the Left Front constituents are contesting in the remaining three. Mr. Chakraborty’s wife, Ramola Chakraborty, is trying to defend her late husband’s seat in Belgachia East. The Trinamool Congress have fielded candidates in most of the seats.