Voters in West Bengal and Assam cast their ballots on Saturday in the first phase of the assembly elections as officials said the poll situation was largely peaceful in both states. According to the Election Commission of India, the turnout was 79.79 per cent till 9:19pm in West Bengal, where a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress are facing each other. In Assam, where the BJP is seeking a second term, turnout was 77 per cent. Officials are yet to do a final compilation of voter turnout.
Sporadic incidents of violence in Bengal
Officials said voting was held in 30 seats in West Bengal—several of them part of the once-Naxal-hit Jangalmahal region—amid tight security and strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines, adding that sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various places.
Of the 30 seats that went to the polls in the first phase, nine are in Purulia, four each in Bankura and Jhargram, six in Paschim Medinipur, and seven in the high-stakes Purba Medinipur district. Purba Medinipur recorded the highest turnout at 82.51 per cent, followed by Jhargram at 80.56, Paschim Medinipur at 80.12 per cent, Bankura at 79.90 per cent and Purulia at 77.07 per cent. “By and large, elections were held peacefully,” an official said.
However, violence and scuffle were reported during the polling process in some areas. Voters staged protests outside a polling booth over the alleged malfunctioning of an electronic voting machine (EVM) in the Kanthi Dakshin seat of Purba Medinipur district. Some blocked a road outside a polling station at Majna, claiming that the VVPAT slip showed results in favour of a particular party, no matter which outfit they voted for. A poll official, said according to news agency PTI, that a contingent of central forces was sent to the area to control the situation and the VVPAT machine was eventually replaced.
News Source: Hindustan Times