Nearly 80% of about 1.22 crore voters exercised their right to franchise across 56 constituencies in the second phase of elections to the West Bengal assembly on Sunday, amid allegations of sporadic violence and voter intimidation.
“At 5pm, the overall polling percentage was 79.70%,” an Election Commission official said.
Long queues of voters were seen outside most polling booths despite the sweltering heat and humidity, as voting commenced at 7am.
Here are the day’s updates from the poll-bound region:
3.45pm: 70.33 % voter turnout recorded till 3 pm.
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2.30pm: “We have demanded for repolling in nine constituencies of Birbhum district,” says Bhupender Yadav of BJP on meeting with EC.
Yadav added, “We’ve demanded that state election commissioner of West Bengal be changed.”
2.00pm: BJP leaders meets the state election commission over clashes with TMC workers in Birbhum this morning, in which seven were injured.
1.30pm: 55.94% voter turnout recorded till 1pm.
12.40pm: Anubrata Mondal casts his vote. The TMC strongman is under EC surveillance, as also in the eye of a political storm for his controversial statements at rallies. Mondal has also been charged with intimidating voters
12.10pm: 39.23% voter turnout recorded till 11am.
The BJP decides to meet Election Commission at 1pm over the violence at Birbhum this morning. While at least seven workers of both BJP and TMC were injured, three were also held from both sides each over the clashes.
Meanwhile, fresh violence broke out between TMC and CPI(M) outside a polling booth in Malda.
Two persons injured in a clash between CPI(M) and TMC workers outside a polling booth in Malda(West Bengal). pic.twitter.com/ay2WNCR9h1— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2016
11.30am: TMC candidate from Siliguri assembly constituency Baichung Bhutia alleges bogus voting at Sriguru Vidayapith booth. TMC registers complaint with the Election Commission.
10.30am: 21.79% voter turnout in the first two hours of Phase 2 of West Bengal polls.
In North Dinajpur, 24% votes were cast while in South Dinajpur it was 25.33%. In Darjeeling it was 19%, Jalpaiguri 20.45%, Malda 18.32%, Alipurduar 20.66% and Birbhum 23.69%.
9.15am: Congress-Left office in North Dinajpur district of WestBengal was vandalised last night. Congress has blamed TMC for the attack.
9.00am: Congress MPs Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury and Mausam Benazir Noor cast their votes in Malda.
Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal is under 24-hour surveillance by the Election Commission, to not let him leave Bolpur Assembly constituency, where he is a voter.
A deputy magistrate and videographer were waiting outside his home with a central force team as directed by EC.
8.15am: Three injured as clashes break out between workers of Trinamool Congress (TMC), CPI(M) and BJP near a polling station in Birbhum. Three workers from both sides were arrested, the police said.
8.10am: TMC’s Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury casts his vote in Malda.
Chowdhury, a former state minister, is defending his Sujapur seat in Malda district. He is pitted against his nephew and Congress contestant Isha Khan Choudhury and BJP’s Nandan Kumar Ghosh.
7.35am: Reports of delay by 20 minutes in voting to start at two polling stations in Malda due to technical problem in electronic voting machine (EVM).
7.30am: Voters’ queues outside polling booth grow.
7.00am: Voting begins
Voters have started queuing outside the polling booths which were flanked by security personnel. The counters open at 7am.
Polling for 56 constituencies in 2nd phase of #WestBengal Assembly election to begin shortly— ANI (@ANI_news) April 17, 2016
These are the first elections since the BJP stormed to power at the Centre in May 2014 in which the party is not seeking votes directly in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The second phase of elections are being held in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Malda and Birbhum.
In the 56 Assembly constituencies, the total number of candidates is 383 and of these 68 have criminal cases against them. The Trinamool Congress and BJP jointly have the maximum number of candidates with criminal cases, followed by the CPI(M) and Congress.
Of the total of 383 candidates, 56 have assets over Rs 1 crore. The Trinamool Congress has the maximum number of crorepati candidates at 23, followed by BJP at 10, Congress eight and CPI(M) one.
The real challenge for chief minister Mamata Banerjee starts from Sunday as her party appears lagging behind the combined might of the Left Front and Congress in vast tracts of north Bengal.
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