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Intimidation, booth capturing: Violence mars Bengal Poll

West Bengal Polls 2016
West Bengal Polls 2016

People queue up to cast their votes during West Bengal assembly election 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Polling for 49 seats in the fourth phase of West Bengal assembly elections began  at  7 am amidst  tight security arrangements. Allegations of booth capturing and intimidation are reported from North 24 Parganas district. BJP alleged that its supporters are not allowed to vote in TMC bastions. BJP candidate Rupa Ganguly has said she will approach election commission against this.

Today ‘s polling is crucial for TMC , since it is important for it to keep its citadel intact if it want to retain power in Bengal

Polling is taking place in the two districts of North 24 Parganas and Howrah — TMC has won  44 seats in these two districts in the last Assembly election.

Over 1.08 crore voters across 12,481 polling stations, including 27 auxiliary booths, are eligible to decide the fate of 345 candidates including 40 women.

While the Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party are contesting in all the constituencies, the Left Front constituents and the Congress are in t he fray in 46 seats, leaving Howrah Central to Janata Dal-United, and Domjur to an independent Protima Dutta.

Political heavyweights from all camps are in the fray in this phase, including seven ministers — five of them from North 24 Parganas alone.

The ministers whose fate would be decided in the 4th phase are Amit Mitra (Khardaha), Jyotipriya Mallick (Habra), Bratya Basu (Dum Dum), Purnendu Basu (Rajarhat-Gopalpur), Chandrima Bhattacharya (Dum Dum North), Arup Roy (Howrah Central) and Rajib Bandopadhyay (Domjur).

Besides, CPI(M)’s Asim Dasgupta (Khardaha), BJP’s Rupa Ganguly (Howrah North) and Congress’ Arunabha Ghosh (Rajarhat New Town) are also contesting the elections.

All eyes will be on jailed former transport and sports minister Madan Mitra, who is contesting from Kamarhati seat in North 24 Parganas district. Mitra was arrested by CBI in December 2014 in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam. Following reports of violence in the third phase of polling which left at least two CPI-M workers dead, the Election Commission has made unprecedented security arrangements for this phase.

Altogether, 90,000 security personnel including central armed forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair elections. Special intervention includes patrolling at night and even on river, which is being done for the first time in this election. So far, voters in 167 of the state’s 294 assembly constituencies have exercised their right to franchise on April 4, 11,17 and 21 in the first three phases. Polling in the, fifth and sixth phases will be held on April 30 and May 5 for 53 and 25 constituencies, respectively.

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