Brisk polling in West Bengal, nearly 50 percent turnout till 1 p.m.

April 18th, 2011 - 3:28 pm ICT by ANI  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, Apr 18 (ANI): Around fifty per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the first six hours of polling in 54 Assembly constituencies in six North Bengal districts on Monday. Jalpaiguri district had the highest turnout at 39 percent and North Dinajpur and Coochebhar the lowest with 28 percent each.

The turnout in Darjeeling district was 28 percent, Malda recorded 37 percent and South Dinajpur 30 percent.

However, there was a vote boycott in six polling booths of Malda district and two others in South Dinajpur district on local issues.

The voting, which started at 7 a.m. will continue till 5 p.m.

Voting is taking place in six North Bengal districts of Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, North Dinjapur, South Dinajpur and Malda.

Among the important political figures whose fortunes will be decided today include ten Ministers of the Left Front government, including Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya (CPI-M), PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami, Jail And Social Welfare Minister Biswanath Chowdhury (both belonging to RSP), Congress leader Debaprasad Roy and Trinamool Congress Darjeeling district president Gautam Deb.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polls. Out of 12,131 polling booths, about 1,800 have been identified as sensitive.

Inter-state and International borders along North Bengal have been sealed to prevent entry of unwanted persons. Twenty-eight general observers, nine expenditure observers and three police observers will monitor the polling.

The Left Front has been in power in West Bengal for more than three decades.

Presently, it is facing a tough challenge from opposition Trinamool Congress and its ally Congress, who have stepped up pressure by raising simmering issues such as Maoist insurgency, corruption, and unemployment, ahead of the polls.

The CPI-M is contesting 32 seats, the Communist Party of India (CPI) two, Forward Bloc 10, Revolutionary Communist Party (RSP) nine, Socialist Party one, Trinamool Congress 26, Congress 27, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) one, and Bharatiya Janata Party 49.

The state will have elections in six phases. The second phase of voting will take place on April 23, third phase on April 27, fourth phase on May 3, fifth phase on May 7 and sixth phase on May 10.

The total number of assembly constituencies in West Bengal is 294, of which 68 are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 16 for the Scheduled Tribes. (ANI)

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