Peaceful polling underway in West Bengal’s Nandigram (Lead)

January 5th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 5 (IANS) Polling was underway Monday amid heavy security in two West Bengal constituencies - troubled Nandigram in East Midnapore district and Sujapur in Malda district - and over 45 percent of votes had been cast by afternoon, state election commission officials said.”According to reports coming from the districts, more than 45 percent of votes have already been cast in Nandigram and nearly 50 percent in Sujapur constituency till 1 p.m.,” an election commission official said.

“There’s been no report of any untoward incident in either of the constituencies. The poll process is going on peacefully, apart from a small problem in the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at Osmanchak in Nandigram constituency,” he added.

About 180,000 people are eligible to cast their votes in Nandigram, while Sujapur has a total voter strength of 160,000.

All the 176 booths in Nandigram, which witnessed spiralling violence over proposed land acquisition for industry in 2007, have been declared sensitive. At least 15 companies of central paramilitary forces, comprising Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have been deployed in the constituency.

In Sujapur, there are around 12 companies of paramilitary forces. Additional police personnel from adjoining districts such as Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri and North and South Dinajpur districts have also been called in to maintain law and order there.

For the Nandigram by-poll, the opposition Trinamool Congress has fielded Firoza Bibi, who lost her younger son Indadur in the March 14, 2007, police firing. Left Front partner Communist Party of India (CPI), whose representative Sheikh Mohammed Illias won the seat in 2006, has named Paramananda Bharati, a veteran teacher of the area, as its candidate.

Illias resigned his seat following his alleged involvement in a bribery case. A sting operation by a television channel had shown him apparently accepting a bribe of Rs.10,000 from an NGO for development work in his area.

In Sujapur, the by-election was necessitated by the death of Congress legislator from Sujapur Rubi Noor - sister of late Congress leader Ghani Khan Choudhury - in July last year.

The main contest is expected to be between CPI-M candidate Haji Ketabuddin and Congress candidate Mausam Benazir Noor, daughter of the dead legislator.

The Trinmool Congress decided not to field their candidate for the seat as a tribute to the late Congress leader Ghani Khan Choudhury.

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