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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Captured booths, EVM glitches mar the first round in West Bengal

As many as 18 candidates are in the fray in these two constituencies. Both are currently held by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vowing to wrest both this time around.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 11, 2019 23:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Siliguri/Kolkata
Till 3 pm, 69.94% of the total 34,62,583 voters in the two constituencies exercised their franchise. In 2014, the two constituencies had witnessed 82.87% polling.
Till 3 pm, 69.94% of the total 34,62,583 voters in the two constituencies exercised their franchise. In 2014, the two constituencies had witnessed 82.87% polling.(Parwaz Khan /HT PHOTO)
         

Sporadic incidents of booth capture, smashing of electronic voting machines (EVM), intimidation of voters and malfunctioning of EVMs marked the first phase of voting in the two constituencies of Cooch Behar and Alipurduars in West Bengal.

Till 3 pm, 69.94% of the total 34,62,583 voters in the two constituencies exercised their franchise. In 2014, the two constituencies had witnessed 82.87% polling.

As many as 18 candidates are in the fray in these two constituencies. Both are currently held by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vowing to wrest both this time around.

“We have received complaints of trouble in 10 booths from the Congress and in 700 booths from the BJP. We are trying to identify who were behind the stray incidents of EVM tampering and other troubles. Strict action will be taken against them without exception,” said Sanjay Basu, additional chief electoral officer of West Bengal.

“There were not sufficient central forces to man the polling booths and TMC took advantage of it,” alleged the BJP’s Cooch Behar candidate, Nishith Pramanik. The BJP alleged that the state police was functioning at the behest of West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

TMC’s Cooch Behar district unit chief and north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh, on the other hand, alleged that the central forces at various places urged people to vote for BJP. He also suspected foul behind several EVMs malfunctioning.

“Why are so many machines not functioning properly after such rigorous tests? I have never seen so many EVMs not functioning. We smell a rat here,” alleged Ghosh.

However, special central police observer for Bengal and Jharkhand, Vivek Dubey, gave a clean chit to the state police. “Polling was peaceful. The state police did its job,” Dubey said.