Enthusiastic Kolkatans throng polling booths

May 13th, 2009 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 13 (IANS) An elderly woman in a wheelchair, a patient laid up on a stretcher, a middle-aged man carrying his octogenarian mother…They were among Kolkata residents who voted in right earnest in the Lok Sabha polls Wednesday.
Paramilitary personnel stood guard at all voting stations in the metropolis where every booth had been declared sensitive, but polling was peaceful.

“Voting is peaceful so far. There have been no major or minor incidents yet,” Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner (detective department) of city police, told IANS.

Polling booths were crowded at around 8 a.m., one hour after voting started for the five parliamentary constituencies in and around Kolkata - Jadavpur, Barashat, Dum Dum, Kolkata South and Kolkata North. Over 6.6 million people were eligible to vote.

“We went to cast our vote early to avoid long queues,” said Rathin Banerjee, who came with his family to cast his vote in a booth at Ballygunge under the Kolkata South constituency where Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is a heavyweight candidate.

It was a pleasant day in Kolkata with Tuesday’s blinding rains having brought down the soaring temperatures.

After spending weeks on gruelling campaigns to woo the electorate, it was time for the city’s political VIPs to vote themselves.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders members Brinda Karat and Biman Bose cast their votes in the first half of the day.

After coming out of the booth, Karat said: “This is a very good trend that people are coming out in numbers in the morning to vote.”

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee was busy at her ‘election control room’ in Kalighat. Her aides were seen coming in and out of the room as complaints poured in from her party candidates. Allegations and counter-allegations of bogus voting and intimidation have continued to fly since morning.

Tension prevailed in many pockets. Trinamool Congress nominee from Kolkata North Sudip Bandopadhyay reportedly had altercations with CPI-M activists twice, but police intervened to defuse the situation.

Many first time voters also exercised their franchise.

A homemaker, Latika Ghosh, who came with two of her sisters-in-law to vote at a Tollygunge booth under the Jadavpur seat, said: “We have come early as we have to do our household chores once we return. It is a holiday for our husbands. We will have a feast.”

-Indo-Asian News Service

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