Terror cringes, spirit soars
War or peace, Bengal lived up to its name on Monday ? the opening round of the five-phased Assembly polls ? by recording a whopping turnout of 70 per cent in the strife-torn districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 03:37 IST
Here's a democracy that’s kicking, literally. War or peace, Bengal lived up to its name on Monday — the opening round of the five-phased Assembly polls — by recording a whopping turnout of 70 per cent in the strife-torn districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.
Voters defied a poll boycott call by the Maoists to exercise their franchise amid unprecedented security in what can be dubbed as one of the costliest elections in the state. However, the poll percentage took a marginal hit compared to 2001, when it was 75 per cent and bloody.
The key players were the Election Commission and the central security agencies, which ensured a smooth ride. Estimates by the poll panel pegged the turnout in West Midnapore at 75, Purulia 65 and Bankura 75. Some booths even witnessed 95 per cent polling.
Rebel hotspots like Bandwan, Man Bazar, Arsa in Purulia, Belpahari, Banshpahari in West Midnapore and Ranibandh, Raipur and Khatra in Bankura recorded satisfactory turnouts. However, a couple of booths in volatile Keshpur (West Midnapore) reported rigging and clashes.
It was a triumph of the spirit over fear. Since early in the morning, serpentine queues were seen outside booths even in places like Keshpur, Garbeta, Sabang and Pingla in West Midnapore. The electorate bubbled with enthusiasm. The gun-toting armies in fatigues inspired confidence.
And gave the Left Front plenty to cheer despite initial misgivings. Front chairman and CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose was confident of improving on the 2001 tally. Bose said the Left would win all the 13 seats of Bankura and bag more in Midnapore and Purulia. Party central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty put it at 43.