Bengal elections: State witnesses close to 38% polling till 11 am, skirmishes reported in Nandigram

By PTI
NANDIGRAM/KOLKATA: The second phase of polling in West Bengal’s eight-phase elections, including in the high-stakes Nandigram seat, recorded a high voter turnout of 37.4 per cent till 11 am.

Though the situation was tense in a few areas with a few skirmishes reported, tight security cover in all 30 constituencies which went to polls averted any major incidents.

“We have 37.42 per cent voter turnout till 11 am in all seats where polling is underway for the second phase. The polling so far has been peaceful,” an Election Commission official said.

The constituencies where polls are being conducted include nine seats each in Purba and Paschim Medinipur districts, eight in Bankura and four in South 24 Parganas.

Strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols has been ensured in all places, officials said.

More than 75 lakh voters will decide the fate of 191 candidates in the 30 constituencies for which voting ends at 6.30 pm.

The entire Nandigram constituency where chief minister Mamata Benrjee is locked in a high-stakes electoral battle with her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari now with the BJP, has been placed under Section 144, to avoid any untoward incident.

However, protesters blocked the road in Nandigram’s Block 1 alleging Central forces stopped them from going to the polling stations.

“The CRPF personnel accompanying Suvendu Adhikari stopped us from casting our votes,” a protester said.

The BJP however denied the allegations.

In another incident, a person was detected with a fake voter ID and was subsequently arrested.

Banerjee decided to stay at her `war room’ in the Reyapara area in Nandigram during the polls, to monitor the situation, according to party sources.

The chief minister is slated to later visit various polling booths.

Around 35 per cent of electors exercised their franchise till 11 am in the agrarian constituency in Purba Medinipur district, , an Election Commission official said.

Barring an incident in the Bhimkata area in Nandigram where the BJP candidate faced an agitation by a group of TMC workers who shouted slogans against him, there were no incidents of face-offs or skirmishes in Nandigram, he added.

However, TMC alleged the BJP had threatened its polling agents in various booths in Nandigram Block 2.

“Our agents were not allowed to enter several polling booths in Nandigram Block -2. Voters have also been stopped from exercising their franchise in some areas. We will lodge complaints with the EC,” a TMC leader said.

Adhikari cast his vote soon after polling began on Thursday morning and claimed he would win the seat by a record margin.

Meanwhile, the Keshpur area in Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district remained tense after a TMC worker identified as Uttam Dolui was stabbed to death late last night, hours before polling started in the area, police said.

Dolui’s family alleged that BJP “goons” attacked him to create tension in the area and intimidate voters ahead of the polling.

The BJP however denied both the allegations.

In Sabang seat in the West Midnapore district, BJP candidate Amulya Maity made a counter allegation that TMC had not allowed his booth agents to enter their designated booths.

The TMC too denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, in Debra seat, police detained BJP’s Mandal president Mohan Singh- for allegedly getting within 100m of a polling booth.

In the Mahisadal seat, the TMC also alleged that BJP workers had stopped voters from going to the polling stations.

Meanwhile, a BJP worker, identified as Uday Dubey, was found hanging near the Reyapara area in Nandigram Block-1.

The BJP alleged that Dubey had ended his life after being threatened by TMC workers.

Villagers in the Boyal area in Nandigram also alleged that BJP supporters had stopped them from going to the polling booths.