West Bengal Polls: In Final Phase, 76% Voter Turnout Till 5:30 pm
As many as 8,493,255 people are expected to choose their representatives from 283 candidates, 35 of whom are women.
The eighth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections for 35 constituencies started at 7 am on Thursday, 29 April, amid a sharp rise in COVID cases. The state registered 76.07 percent voter turnout till 5.32 pm, in the eighth phase of polls.
Meanwhile, ANI reported Congress MP and party's state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury cast his vote at a polling booth in Murshidabad.
Earlier, a bomb was hurled near Mahajati Sadan Auditorium in north Kolkata, as per ANI. The incident happened at the heart of the city, on Central Avenue, resulting in chaos.
As per NDTV, BJP's Jorasanko candidate Meena Devi Purohit raised allegations that crude bombs were thrown at her vehicle as she travelled to different poll booths.
The Election Commission has sought details of the incident.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and his wife Sudesh Dhankhar, meanwhile, cast their votes in Chowringhee, Kolkata.
Speaking to ANI, the governor said, “The election is the greatest festival in democracy, we both voted. COVID-19 protocol being followed 100 percent. I'm very happy with the arrangements. Excellent work done by EC & CAPF. Democracy is powered only by your votes. Anyone who doesn't vote loses the right to grievance."
Actor-turned-BJP leader Mithun Chakraborty cast his vote at Kashipur-Belgachia, north Kolkata.
“I had never voted so peacefully ever before. I must congratulate all the security personnel,” he said, as per ANI.
Of the 35 constituencies, 11 each are in Birbhum and Murshidabad, seven in North Kolkata and six in Malda. There are 11,860 polling booths spread across 5,837 polling stations, of which 9,216 are main booths and the rest 2,644 are auxiliary units, as per IANS.
In this phase of polls, as many as 8,493,255 people – 4,370,693 men and 4,122,403 women – are expected to elect their representatives from 283 candidates, 35 of whom are women.
As many as 72,094 people with disabilities are eligible to exercise their franchise. The number of voters over the age of 80 is 112,440. The total number of service electorate in this phase is 14,981, added the report.
PM Modi Urges West Bengal to Vote
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged voters to exercise their right to franchise while maintaining COVID protocols. The move comes as India faces a second wave of the COVID-19, with the number of cases scaling new highs each day.
West Bengal registered 17,207 new cases within 24 hours, and 77 people who lost their lives to COVID.
Nandita Sinha, wife of Kajal Sinha, a Trinamool Congress candidate from Khardaha constituency has filed a complaint against Sudip Jain and the Election Commission for murder. Sinha contracted COVID on 20 April and passed away on 25 April.
English Bazar BJP ’s candidate Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury has been admitted to a hospital in Kolkata after testing COVID positive.
An independent candidate from Malda's Baisabnagar, as per NDTV, has succumbed to COVID.
Sensitive Booths, Security Deployed
The Election Commission announced that polling at Booth No 126 in the Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency in Cooch Behar will be held on Thursday. Polling was suspended at the booth in the last phase, following the murder of 4 people.
The EC has announced that 5,433 booths are extremely sensitive where 24 general observers, nine expenditure observers and nine police observers have been deployed for the eighth phase, as per IANS. It has deployed 646 companies of central forces for the last phase of polling, with Birbhum having the highest deployment of 225 companies for its 11 constituencies.
A total of 215 companies of central forces will be used for the 11 constituencies in Murshidabad, 110 companies for the six constituencies in Malda, while North Kolkata will have the lowest deployment of 96 companies for its seven constituencies, as per the report.
The 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw the TMC lead in 19 constituencies. The BJP, not too far behind, was left with 11 constituencies while the Congress managed to secure 5 seats. The Left Front hardly had any impression in these 35 seats.
This has been the longest election in the state, which began on 27 March, and will conclude on Thursday evening. The results of the elections will be declared on 2 May.
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