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Voting concludes in West Bengal; 76% participation in the final phase | India News


NEW DELHI: West Bengal recorded a 76% voter turnout in the final round of the eight-phase elections held under the shadow of a Covid pandemic.
As in previous phases, there were reports of violence in some areas, but the vote was generally peaceful.
Here’s a summary …
Voting concludes in Bengal
With the eighth and final phase wrapping up on Thursday, the gigantic month-long voting exercise concluded in the state.
All eyes will now be on the results to be declared on May 2, along with those of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.
The Electoral Commission Sources said that 76.07 percent of voter turnout was registered as of 5 p.m. in 35 districts where the elections were held. This is expected to increase further when the final figures come in.
Voting took place in 11,860 polling stations in 35 constituencies: 11 in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in northern Kolkata, the sources said.
Sporadic violence; one dead
One person was killed and two others injured when they were hit by a car in Murshidabad district hours before the voting exercise began, a police officer said.
The CPM claimed that its member Kader Mondal (42) was killed, and two others, Asim Al Mamoon (43) and Lal Chand Mondal (42), were injured when TMC candidate Jafikul Islam ran over with his car.
Islam, a candidate for TMC’s Domkal, dismissed the accusation, saying he was nowhere near the scene of the incident.
Elections Director (CEO) Aariz Aftab has requested a report from district authorities on the matter.
In the Beliaghata area of ​​the city, clashes broke out between two groups that were followed by metal charges by the police to disperse people.
Two people who identified themselves as BJP activists alleged that TMC workers mistreated them during the riot.
There were clashes between TMC and BJP activists in the Ilambazar area of ​​the Bolpur constituency. BJP candidate Anirban Ganguly’s car was damaged when he got there.
Ganguly, who was touring the constituency to verify the voting process in different booths, alleged that the attack on his vehicle was by TMC-backed thugs.
TMC’s candidate for constituency and minister of state, Chandranath Sinha, denied Ganguly’s allegations, saying the villagers kicked him out because the BJP candidate was trying to influence voters.
In the violence-prone Nanoor constituency of Birbhum district, BJP candidate Tarakeshwar Saha was reportedly injured after his vehicle was looted.
He accused TMC cadres of attacking him and the accusation was called “unfounded” by local leaders of the state’s ruling party.
In the Domkol area of ​​Murshidabad district, clashes broke out between the TMC and BJP activists. Subsequently, the police recovered a large quantity of raw bombs from a field. Bomb disposal squads rushed to spread the bombs.
In Kolkata’s Maniktala constituency, BJP candidate Kalyan Choubey was attacked by a group of people during his visit to the polls.
Choubey alleged that TMC-backed antisocials tried to create riots in order to rig the polls.
Maniktala TMC candidate Sadhan Pande alleged that agents of his party were attacked by BJP cadres at various booths.
“An agent was beaten by BJP thugs. The EC should take note of it,” said Pande.
Crude bombs exploded on the outskirts of Mahajati Sadan on the Central Avenue artery in central Kolkata on Thursday morning, a senior Kolkata police official told reporters.
An official in the CEO’s office said the banned crackers were smashed at the scene.
Jorasanko’s candidate from the BJP, Meena Devi Purohit, alleged that the bombs were thrown at her vehicle as she passed through different polling stations.
A huge police contingent was transferred to the scene to control the situation.
TMC senior leader Sougata Roy alleged that BJP thugs along with a section of the central forces had terrorized voters.
The BJP and central forces officials have called the accusations unfounded.
Surveys in the midst of a pandemic
Meanwhile, people flocked despite coronavirus cases soaring in the state.
Long lines were seen outside most polling stations from early in the morning, raising concerns about the spread of Covid-19, even as the Election Commission assured that all precautionary measures are in place.
Bengal recorded its highest single-day peak of 17,403 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, while 89 more people succumbed to the disease.
The voting panel deployed 641 central forces companies in the final phase to ensure a fair vote.
Exit Mouth Polls Predict Close Fight
The predictions from the exit polls came shortly after the state voting concluded, with most agencies predicting a hanging assembly in West Bengal.
An exit poll poll predicted 141 seats for the TMC in the 294-member assembly, while the BJP is projected to get 138 seats.
Voting was delayed in two electoral districts due to the death of the candidates, causing the new majority to mark 147.

This means that the TMC may have a difficult time staying in power and is likely to face a formidable challenge from the BJP, which won just 3 seats in 2016.
(With PTI inputs)

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