High turnout in peaceful 4th phase of West Bengal elections
Kolkata: More than 80 per cent of the 12.6 million electorate have voted in the fourth phase of West Bengal assembly elections sealing the fate of more than 366 candidates, in 63 constituencies including that of Singur and Nandigram that helped Mamata Banerjee turn the tables against the well-entrenched communist vote machine in south Bengal.
Additional Chief Election Commissioner N.K. Sahana said polling was generally peaceful. Ten preventive arrests were made: six in East Midnapore and two each in Hooghly and Burdwan districts.
Sahana said voters protesting against lack of development in their areas boycotted the polls in booth 86 of the Shyampur constituency, booths 91 and 91-A of Amta and booth 194 of Katwa constituency.
Electronic voting machines in 92 booths were replaced for technical reasons, he said.
There were complaints of partisan activities against some presiding officers who were immediately replaced. There were also complaints of booth jamming by warring political factions.
Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, Chief Election Commissioner of Bihar, who has been assigned to act as special observer, toured the four districts — Howrah, Hooghly, East Midnapur and parts of Burdwan — that voted yesterday. Apart from Rakesh, 42 general observers, nine economic observers, four police observers and 2,479 micro-observers have been employed by the Election Commission, since voting in some of the constituencies had been marred by political violence in the last few years.
The star candidates whose fate was sealed yesterday included Industries Minister Nirupam Sen, Agriculture Minister Naren Dey, Higher Education Minister Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury, Information and Culture Minister Soumendranath Bera and Fire and Emergency Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee.
The CPM is contesting from 46 constituencies, the Communist Party of India from six, the Trinamool Congress 59, the Congress four, the Forward Bloc seven and the Bharatiya Janata Party 63.
Polling in the first three phases covered 12 districts featuring 179 of the state's 294 assembly seats. The six-phased polls started on April 18 and end on Tuesday. The votes will be counted on May 13.