The by-poll for the Howrah Lok Sabha constituency on Sunday was largely peaceful with about 64 per cent of the electorate turning up for voting.
“There are no reports of booth capturing, interruption or obstruction of voters and any instance of boycott of the poll. Minor complaints by the certain political parties and candidates were made and accordingly officials of the Commission intervened in the areas concerned,” the State’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sunil Gupta said.
Leaders of both the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress alleged that activists of the Trinamool Congress resorted to intimidation of polling agents and voters in certain areas.
The contest is expected to be mainly between nominees of the Trinamool Congress, the Left Front and the Congress, though there are 13 candidates in the fray. The by-poll was necessitated because of the death of Trinamool Congress MP Ambica Banerjee. Counting of votes is on Wednesday.
The election has assumed added political significance as it comes ahead of the rural polls in 17 districts of the State.
The office of the CEO received 31 complaints from different sources and in some places ,the police had to intervene to defuse tension. Allegations of threatening voters were mostly received from polling booths in Bally and Panchla Assembly segments, said Mr. Gupta.
An office of the CPI (M) was attacked in Liluah, while journalists from a local television channel were assaulted allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters in the Panchla area.
The State Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission alleging that the voters were threatened in the presence of micro observers at some polling booths.
“We have sent the complaints to the Election Commissioner with all the details and hope that necessary steps will be taken,” State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said.
Referring to stray incidents of violence, the Left Front candidate Sridip Bhattacharjee of the CPI(M), said that the Trinamool Congress was responsible as they were getting desperate after realising that the party was increasingly being alienated from the people.
Among other measures taken by the Election Commission to ensure smooth polls were two surveillance vehicles mounted with cameras that did the rounds in sensitive areas, providing video footage of those areas that could be accessed by the Election Commission and the Office of the CEO, Mr. Gupta said.