Bengal bypolls: 14% vote amid malpractice allegations
Amid sporadic allegations of malpractices, close to 14 per cent votes were cast in the first two hours for three West Bengal Assembly constituencies where bypolls are underway on Monday.
Election Commission sources said poll proceedings were peaceful in Kaliaganj, Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur, and there were no reports of violence.
"There was 13.8 per cent polling on an average in the three constituencies. The voting percentage was 14.13 in Kaliaganj, 12.60 in Kharagpur Sadar and 14.71 in Karimpur," the EC said.
Over 7.34 lakh voters are eligible to vote in 801 polling stations to choose their representatives from among 18 candidates, including three women.
In Kaliaganj of North Dinajpur district, a presiding officer was removed after Trinamool Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against BJP candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar for breaking rules by showing his wife the EVM button she needed to press.
The footage was aired by some television channels. The EC sought a report from the district returning officer and later removed the presiding officer.
In Kharagpur Sadar's booth number 140, the BJP agent complained that the Electronic Voting Machine was strategically placed beside a mirror wall.
"Because of the mirror wall, it could be seen who the people are voting for. So we have complained," said the agent.
The mirror wall was later covered with a cloth by election officials.
In Karimpur, BJP alleged that its agent in Thanarpara was kidnapped allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers. The Trinamool denied the allegations.
The BJP candidate Jay Prakash Majumdar met with resistance from some people, alleged to be Trinamool loyalists, when he went to the booth. The BJP contestant got involved in heated verbal exchanges with them, till the central force personnel intervened and removed the people.
Majumdar was asked to leave a booth at Pipulkhola school after allegations from Trinamool that he was going too close to the EVM.
At Sahebpara, Majumdar was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress activists who also raised 'go back' slogans.
"There is no place for any communal politics here," said one of the protesters.
On the other hand, Trinamool candidate Bimalendu Sinha Roy was found to have entered a booth with the party symbol displayed on his dress. He was ordered out of the booth.
The ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition BJP are contesting all the seats.
The Left Front and Congress have formed an alliance with the Congress in the fray from Kharagpur and Kaliaganj and Left Front major CPI-M in Karimpur.
The polls at Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur were necessitated after the MLAs -- Dilip Ghosh and Mahua Moitra -- won the Lok Sabha polls.
The bypoll in Kaliaganj is the fallout of the death of Congress MLA Pramath Nath Roy.
Though the by-elections are not going to bring about any change of government, they have generated much interest among political observers and analysts, who feel the results and voting trends could give a fair idea, and even to some extent, shape the future course of events in the run up to the 2021 Assembly election in Bengal.IANS