Assam’s 85% has pollsters riveted

In West Bengal, which recorded a good turnout in Phase 1(B), sporadic incidents of violence mar polling.

Updated - September 08, 2016 08:36 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2016 03:55 am IST - KOLKATA

People queued up since early morning to cast their vote for the second phase of Assam elections in Guwahati on Monday. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

People queued up since early morning to cast their vote for the second phase of Assam elections in Guwahati on Monday. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

Polling for the second round of Phase 1 of the West Bengal Assembly elections on Monday was marred by sporadic violence, while the second and final phase in Assam saw a record turnout of nearly 85 per cent, which will be of interest to pollsters.

In West Bengal, the polling percentage remained high in Paschim Mednipur district at 84.71 per cent. Bankura recorded 78.87 per cent and Bardhaman 75.12 per cent, till 5 p.m. — the figures are expected to go up.

Within just a couple of hours after polling began at 7 a.m., a CPI(M) polling agent had to be hospitalised after being attacked at Jamuria in Bardhaman district. Several crude bombs kept in a bag were seized near a booth in the same segment.

While masked men armed with bamboos and sticks were seen roaming around in Pandeveshwar, video footage of people trying to influence elderly voters surfaced during the day.

Accompanying Nargis Bano, Trinamool Congress candidate from Raniganj, her husband, Mohd. Sohrab Ali, the sitting MLA from Raniganj, entered a polling booth. Following a complaint by the Opposition, the Election Commission initiated legal proceedings against the Trinamool leader.

At the Keshpur constituency, a woman polling agent of the CPI(M) alleged that Trinamool supporters threatened her.

During the day, the Election Commission got 1,878 complaints and disposed of 1,810.

“Incidents of interruption and obstruction of polls due to riots, violence or any other reason, booth capturing, vitiation of poll process, votes unlawfully recorded by any person in the EVM, seditious complaints from candidates or political parties, incidents of violence and breach of law and order are nil,” West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said.

Mr. Gupta refused to take any questions from journalists, though all Opposition parties alleged that the Election Commission had failed to live up to its responsibility.

“If his attitude [towards complaints] is so negative, why is he occupying his post? What is the utility of keeping him as CEO,” Left Front chairperson Biman Bose said.

Mr. Bose said electoral malpractices and rigging were reported in at least 250 booths.

“There has been violence in Keshpur, Garbeta and Patrasayar. We have no faith in the State police and the Election Commission has also failed in its responsibility,” CPI(M) State secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

Congress leader Manas Ranjan Bhunia alleged major violence and electoral malpractices and blamed the commission for or not acting properly. Congress supporters held protests outside the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Kolkata.

Scorching heat posed a challenge to polling personnel and voters during the day.

Many booths wore a deserted look in the afternoon when the heat was at its peak.

A polling officer, Parimal Bauri, in the Pandeveshwar Assembly seat fell ill on Sunday night and died on Monday. Many parts of south Bengal, including Kolkata, are reeling under heat.

Assam impressesPTI reports:

Assam recorded an impressive turnout of about 85 per cent. Balloting was held in 61 constituencies in the final phase.

An 80-year-old voter died in a scuffle between CRPF personnel and the local people over forming a queue at a polling station in Sorbhog in Barpeta district, officials said.

Three others, including a CRPF Assistant Commandant and a constable, were injured in the incident. Security personnel fired in the air to quell a protest at Chaygaon in Kamrup district after a CRPF constable allegedly “misbehaved” with a pregnant voter who re-entered a booth to pick up her child whom she had forgotten to carry while leaving after voting.

The entire team of CRPF deployed in the polling station was replaced after the incident, Superintendent of Police Prasanta Saikia said.

Prominent candidates include Asom Gana Parishad leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, BJP national spokesman Sidhartha Bhattacharya and former Congress Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who joined the BJP last year.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.