High turnout in Bengal; Singur, Nandigram vote (Roundup)

May 3rd, 2011 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, May 3 (IANS) Former volatile spots Singur and Nandigram voted Tuesday as millions exercised their franchise in 63 constituencies of four districts in the fourth phase of West Bengal assembly elections.

As many as 84.55 percent of 1.26 crore people voted during the day, sources in the chief electoral officer’s office said. When polling ended at 5 p.m., many men and women were still in queues — to vote.

In a battle that many feel threatens the three decades old Left Front government, people from all strata of life came out to vote in the cities, small towns and villages.

It was largely a peaceful exercise though the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) complained of intimidation and terror of party agents and voters by the Trinamool Congress at Nandigram.

Balloting took place in Howrah, Hooghly and East Midnapore and in parts of Burdwan district.

Crucial rural belts like Hooghly’s Singur and Nandigram in East Midnapore - both of which saw violent protests against land takeover for industry -saw high polling.

Three presiding officers - in Arambagh in Hooghly, in Jamalpur in Howrah and in Burdwan - were removed following allegations of irregularity, Additional Chief Electoral Officer N.K. Sahana told IANS.

A Trinamool Congress polling agent was arrested when he reached a voting centre in Nandigram as he had a non-bailable warrant against him.

The CPI-M, which heads the Left Front, alleged that its candidate from Ketugram in Burdwan was attacked by Trinamool supporters.

Three of the attackers were arrested, Police Superintendent Humayun Kabir said. Fifty others were rounded up from the district, Kabir said.

Tuesday’s exercise involved around 1.26 crore voters and 366 candidates.

Hooghly has 18 seats, and Howrah and East Midnapore 16 each. Voting is being held in 13 of the 25 seats in Burdwan.

“The polling percentage was 80 in Howrah, 92 in Hooghly, 89 in East Midnpaore and 88 in Burdwan,” a source said.

There was a vote boycott in four booths - three in Amta of Howrah district and another in Katwa of Burdwan - over local issues.

At least 54 electronic voting machines were replaced after they developed mechanical snags.

There are 15,711 polling booths, out of which about 5,000 have been declared “super sensitive”-an official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence.

The star candidates Tuesday include Industries Minister Nirupam Sen, Agriculture Minister Naren Dey, Higher Education Minister Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury, Information and Culture Minister Soumendranath Bera and Fire and Emergency Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee.

The CPI-M is contesting from 46 constituencies, the Communist Party of India (CPI) six, Trinamool Congress 59, Congress four, Forward Bloc seven, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 63.

In the first three phases, polling was conducted in 12 districts covering 179 of the state’s 294 assembly seats.

The six-phased polls started April 18 and end May 10. Thirty eight constituencies will go to the hustings May 7 and 14 May 10. The votes will be counted May 13.

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