West Bengal recorded voter turnout of about 81 per cent, while in Assam the figure went over 78 per cent in the first phase of assembly elections conducted on Monday, according to the Election Commission. No incidents of election-related violence were reported. “The figures are till 5 p.m. With queues of voters still present at polling stations, the figures could go up,” said Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena at a press conference in the national capital.
In the 2011 assembly polls, the voter turnout in the respective assembly constituencies of West Bengal stood at 83.72 per cent and 75 per cent in Assam, whereas in the 2014 general elections, the figures were 83.39 and 79 per cent, respectively. On Monday, elections were held in 18 of the 294 constituencies of West Bengal, including 13 naxal-affected segments. In Assam, 65 of the 126 constituencies went to polls. “The first phase of elections in the two States was by and large peaceful. No incidents of violence, injury or death were reported,” said Mr. Saxena.
The overall turnout recorded in the three West Bengal districts of Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura was 80.92 per cent. Six Assembly segments of Paschim Medinipur registered the highest overall turnout of 81.66 per cent. “We are not lowering our guard till all polling personnel return safely and the Electronic Voting Machines are safely deposited at recording rooms,” said State Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kumar Gupta, referring to polls in naxal-affected segments.
The Commission has recommended re-polling at one booth in Taldanga Assembly constituency in Bankura, while a presiding officer at Balarampur Assembly seat in Purulia was removed after allegations of influencing the voters. In two cases, the State police personnel were found inside polling premises and therefore, removed. Among major candidates contesting the polls in these 18 constituencies the prominent names are Sukumar Hansda of Trinamool from Jhargram and CPI(M)'s Pulin Bihari Baske from Gopiballavpur. Contesting from Baghmundi, Congress MLA Nepal Mahato is another interesting contender.
The enforcement agencies have so far seized over Rs. 3 crore in cash, apart from 16.93 lakh litres of liquor worth about Rs. 6 crore, from across West Bengal. Drugs and narcotic substances worth Rs. 77 lakh have also been seized.
Though the EC received over a dozen complaints of rigging and other irregularities, they were found to be false. Sharing details on action taken by enforcement agencies, the EC said 859 Excise Act cases had been registered in the constituencies of Assam where elections were conducted on Monday. The agencies have seized an overall 7.5 lakh litres of liquor worth about Rs. 4 crore in Assam. The total cash seizure till Monday stood at Rs.10.41 crore. The EC has recorded 18 suspected cases of paid news in Assam. No such cases have been reported in West Bengal.