Peaceful polling in three states
West Bengal, Kerala and Pondicherry recorded heavy voter turnout.india Updated: May 03, 2006 19:31 IST
Peaceful polling in Kerala
Polling for the last and final phase of Assembly elections in Kerala, covering 15 constituencies in Kannur and Kasargode districts, ended on a peaceful note at 1700 hrs on Wednesday.
Heavy polling was witnessed in all stations from the morning.
Election Commission (EC) sources said barring minor incidents, polling was peaceful in the politically volatile northern districts.
Elaborate security arrangements had been made, with most of the 2,373 polling booths being identified as trouble-prone. Each booth was manned by five policemen.
Over 9,000 security personnel drawn from Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were deployed in the region and digital cameras installed.
Eighty-five candidates including CPI(M) state secretariat member Kodeyeri Balakrishnan, Congress (S) president Kadanappally Ramachandran and former Minister K Sudhakaran are in the fray.
The EC decided to conduct voting in these districts in the last leg in view of repeated allegations of mischief before the polls.
Heavy turnout in West Bengal
Braving the summer heat, millions of voters poured into polling centers in 57 West Bengal constituencies on Wednesday in the fourth round of staggered assembly elections.
The polling was peaceful and a turnout of nearly 55 per cent - the electorate is 9.3 million strong in this penultimate phase - was recorded till early evening - 19 constituencies in Murshidabad, 26 in Burdwan and 12 in Birbhum district.
The polling percentage is likely to cross 70 per cent, like in previous phases, in the 10-hour balloting.
"No untoward incident was reported. The turnout is very high and spontaneous. We are happy," said Deputy Election Commissioner Anand Kumar after touring the districts.
Election Commission sources said some electronic voting machines malfunctioned.
The West Bengal assembly has 294 members. A total of 288 candidates, including 20 women, are in the fray in the fourth phase.
Of the 57 assembly seats, the Left won 42 in 2001. In Murshidabad, it took 11 seats, 21 in Burdwan and 10 in Birbhum to inflict crushing defeat on the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.
Though the other two districts, including Bengal's rice bowl Burdwan, are red bastions, the Left would seek to make gains in Murshidabad where the Congress is strong but ridden with factionalism.
Campaigning has been high pitched in Murshidabad with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya hitting the campaign trail aggressively.
Among the prominent candidates are West Bengal Industry Minister Nirupam Sen from Burdwan South, Power Minister Mrinal Banerjee (Durgapur I in Burdwan) and Animal Resources Minister Anisur Rahman in Murshidabad (Domkal).
The first three phases (April 17, 22 and 27) saw polling in 187 constituencies. The elections end on May 8.
50 per cent polling in Pondicherry
An estimated 50 per cent of the 45,708 voters had exercised their franchise in the first phase of election to the 30 member territorial assembly.
Mahe, Palloor and Yanam constituencies went to polls on Wednesday in the first phase and 21 constituencies in Pondicherry region and six in Karaikal, would go to polls in the second phase on May 8.
Polling was so far peaceful and elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure law and order.
As many as 19 candidates including Health Minister E Valsaraj, were in the the fray for the first phase. In all the three constituencies, women outnumbered men in exercising their franchise.
Polling in a booth in Palloor and Yanam constituencies were delayed as the presiding officer had mistakenly pressed the "close" button, while the polling was in progress and it was rectified after half an hour, and polling continued.
Polling in another booth in Mahe was also delayed due to a technical snag to a digital camera, which was later rectified.