Polling begins in West Bengal

May 7th, 2009 - 9:27 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 7 (IANS) Long queues were seen outside polling booths in 17 West Bengal Lok Sabha seats where voting began Thursday morning.
Voters began trickling into polling stations long before the booths opened at 7 a.m. to beat the oppressive heat and humidity that is bound to make things difficult for the electors as the day progresses.

While more than 80 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in round one of the polls in the state April 30, over two million voters in seven southern districts will Thursday elect their representatives in parliament from among 134 candidates.

The most high profile politician in the fray is External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is seeking re-election from Jangipur in Murshidabad district. H eis pitted against a relative lightweight, Mriganka Bhattacharya of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

This edition of the staggered voting process is of interest not just to politicos but also India Inc with Nandigram and Singur, the two areas that made headlines for anti-industrialisation protests, going to the hustings.

National and international poll watchers will be closely following the verdict in the two areas to gauge the relative potency of the twin issues of industrialisation and anti-land acquisition protests by farmers.

In the 2004 election, the CPI-M had won 14 of the 17 seats.

Of West Bengal’s 42 seats, 14 went to the polls April 30, while 11 will vote in the last round May 13. Counting will be May 16.

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