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West Bengal Polls: 80 percent voter turnout in violence-marred Phase 3

New Delhi: Polling for the crucial third phase of West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in 62 constituencies today, including seven in Kolkata. Over 1.37 crore electorate will seal the fate of 418 candidates,
India TV Politics Desk April 21, 2016 23:08 IST
India TV Politics Desk

New Delhi: The third phase of polling in the West Bengal assembly elections has seen 79.22% voting for the crucial Assembly election.

A CPI-M activist was killed on Thursday after being attacked by crude bombs in West Bengal's Murshidabad district, police said.

The incident occurred in Domkal, one of the 62 seats in which polling for the third phase of Bengal assembly election spread over four districts is underway.

"Tahidul Islam (30), said to be a polling agent has been killed. Prime facie it appears crude bombs were thrown at him. We are verifying all the facts," said a police officer.

Former minister Anisur Rehman, who is a high-profile CPI(M) candidate in this constituency, accused the Trinamool Congress of foul play. “I have heard that supporters of the ruling party have taken over a number of booths,” he said.

Goons were also  seen brandishing pistols as polls were underway in Burdwan.

Polling for the crucial third phase of West Bengal Assembly elections has begun  in 62 constituencies that also includes seven seats in Kolkata.

Over 1.37 crore electorate will seal the fate of 418 candidates, including 34 female, who are in the fray during third phase of elections for 62 seats spread over Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan districts and north Kolkata.

A total of 1,37,13,594 voters, including 65,79,331 females, are registered to vote at these constituencies through 16,461 polling stations from 7 AM to 6 PM.

Key candidates in this phase include Trinamool ministers Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, five-time Congress MLA Md Sohrab, CPI-M MLA Anisur Rahman and retired IPS officer Nazrul Islam.

The Election Commission has identified 3,401 hamlets in the phase as vulnerable.

Security forces have been strengthened with around one lakh security personnel, including 75,000 central forces, spread all over the state.

All polling premises will be guarded by central forces while lathi-wielding state personnel, who understand local language, will facilitate queue management.

Based on complaints received from the electorate, 6,095 voters have been identified as vulnerable after which action has been taken by 4,094 trouble mongers.

When voters go out to exercise their franchise tomorrow, the scorching sun will be an issue as several districts are reeling under a heatwave.

Even in the city where voting will be held in seven constituencies, the weatherman has predicted 39 degrees Celsius temperature on polling day.

Trinamool Congress, Left-Congress alliance and BJP have put up a fight in all the seats.

Former minister Humayun Kabir, who was expelled from Trinamool Congress for six years for making anti-party statements, is in the fray from Rejinagar seat as an independent.
Murshidabad district, which has been a Congress

stronghold, will see five-time Congress MLA and former minister Abu Hena putting up a fight once again from Lalgola seat while party MLA Manoj Chakraborty is also in the fray from Beharampur.

Former investment banker Mahua Moitra, who left her lucrative job as vice-president of JP Morgan in London in 2008, has finally got a chance to prove her mettle in politics courtesy a Trinamool ticket from Karimpur seat in Nadia district.

Trinamool has been facing a rough time with the Election Commission as party chairman and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was showcaused by the poll panel over an alleged violation of the model code of conduct.

EC has also transferred a number of IAS and IPS officers including Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar.

Anubrata Mondal, Birbhum district president of the TMC, has been facing the wrath of the EC ever since the election began.

In north Kolkata the Vivekananda flyover collapse which left 26 people killed on March 31 is also a big election issue.

In his campaign speeches, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh raised the issue of fake currency, infiltration and cow smuggling into India through the porous Indo-Bangladesh border.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked both Trinamool and BJP for not taking action against the culprits involved in the Saradha scam and black money laundering.

Feeling pressure over the Narada sting operation, the TMC chief said she would have "given a thought" before choosing her party candidates for the ongoing Assembly elections if the video tapes had been telecast earlier.

(with PTI inputs)