75% vote in West Bengal third phase
Kolkata: West Bengal witnessed peaceful voting in the third phase of the six-phase assembly elections yesterday which saw around 75 per cent of votes cast in 75 constituencies in Kolkata and two neighbouring districts, officials said.
Wednesday's voting will decide the fate of Chief Minister Buddadeb Bhattacharjee and eleven of his ministers.
A total of 14,419,669 people in Kolkata and the districts of North and South 24-Parganas were eligible to elect their representatives from among 479 contestants. Two women died while standing in long queues outside the polling stations.
"In South 24 Parganas district, a woman died of sunstroke in Kultali while waiting in the queue to vote. Another woman died when she slipped and sustained a head injury after coming out of a polling booth in Canning West," said District Magistrate NS Nigam.
South 24 Parganas had the highest turnout at around 80 per cent, followed by North 24 Parganas of around 77 per cent. Kolkata recorded around 60 per cent.
There were some reports of malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) from a number of polling booths, but they were promptly replaced.
"We have 7,000 additional voting machines all over the districts. The moment the slightest anomaly was reported, we replaced that machine," said an EC official.
Trinamool Congress complained against rigging by CPI (M) party cadres in some constituencies, including Saltlake, Rajarhat, and Jadavpur where the incumbent Chief Minister is contesting against TMC's Manish Gupta.
Speaking to Gulf News, from her residence in South Kolkata, the federal Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress, said CPI(M) cadres had been trying to rig the polls in various constituencies and that 10 EVM were looted in Burdwan district.
"We have prepared a legal council to fight the legal battle in a very possible way. We value each vote and we don't want it to go wasted in any possible way," Banerjee said.
The CPI (M) state general secretary Biman Bose, however, said they were false allegations.
"The moment they realise that they are going to lose a particular constituency they complain of rigging. This has been an old tactic and people are aware of it," the ruling Left Front leader said.
Over 600 companies of security forces were deployed for the voting. Polls to the 294-member assembly, which started April 18, will end May 10.