83 percent votes cast in round five of Bengal polls (Intro Roundup)

May 8th, 2011 - 12:04 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, May 7 (IANS) An estimated 83 percent voting was recorded in three Maoist-affected districts as well as parts of Burdwan in the fifth and penultimate phase of the West Bengal assembly polls Saturday held amid tightened security, with helicopters keeping a watch over the forested areas.

Saturday’s voting numbers continued the trend seen in the earlier four rounds, with voters forming long queues at polling booths in the Maoist-hit West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts as well as parts of Burdwan.

Till 5 p.m., the scheduled time for polling to end, 83 percent of the total 74 lakh voters had exercised their franchise, said state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta.

The polling in the 38 constituencies would decide the fate of 193 candidates in 9,425 booths in this phase. West Midnapore and Burdwan have 12 seats each, Purulia 5 and Bankura 9.

“In West Midnapore, the polling percentage was 86. There was 84 percent polling in Bankura, 80 in Purulia and 81 In Burdwan,” Gupta said.

Two helicopters carried out aerial surveillance in the forested areas and remote corners of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, while around 550-600 companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed on ground.

The polls in Saturday’s phase do not include the 14 constituencies considered to be the hotbed of Maoist activities where balloting is on May 10.

“Except for one incident at Debra of West Midnapore district, voting was peaceful,” Gupta told mediapersons here.

Politically volatile Raina in Burdwan recorded over 92 percent polling, while Keshpur in West Midnapore saw 87 percent of the electorate cast their franchise.

Sixty-two EVMs had to be replaced after they malfunctioned, while a booth in Burdwan district’s Khandaghosh is set for a repoll after the EVM conked off.

Gupta said a storm raged in parts of Purulia and Bankura districts, felling trees that blocked roads.

“Ten people were arrested outside a polling station in Debra following a clash between the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the opposition Trinamool Congress activists,” he said.

Elsewhere, 109 preventive arrests were made.

Among the political heavyweights in the fray Saturday were state Health Minister Surjya Kanta Mishra (Narayangarh of West Midnapore district) and state Congress president Manas Bhuniya (Sabong of West Midnapore).

Many feel these six-phase assembly polls threaten the three-decade-old Communist-led Left Front rule in the state.

In the fifth phase, the CPI-M was contesting 32 seats, the Communist Party of India (CPI) one, Forward Bloc three, the Trinamool Congress 33, the Congress five, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put up candidates for all the 38 seats.

Polls for the 294-member assembly started April 18 and will end May 10. Polling has been completed in 242 constituencies in the first four phases. The counting of votes will take place May 13.

Political parties gave the thumbs up to the Election Commission (EC) for the peaceful polling.

The state’s ruling Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “The polling was more or less peaceful except a few small incidents.”

Trinamool Congress heavyweight Partha Chatterjee said: “The polling was good but there were a few incidents which were not expected. These kind of incidents have not happened in the earlier phases.”

Related Stories

    Posted in Uncategorized |