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Turnout proves state's tradition in fair polling : CPI(M)

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Kolkata, Apr 17 (UNI) Expressing satisfaction over the first phase of polling in West Bengal, CPI(M) State Committee Secretary Biman Bose today congratulated voters for exercising franchise in large numbers.

Briefing reporters at the party office, Mr Bose said overall 65 per cent people had already cast their votes in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore districts, where polling was held amid a Maoist threat and an unprecedented security cover.

''I congratulate the people of these three districts for turning up in a large number to exercise their democratic right. This proves that the state has a tradition of smooth and free and fair elections,'' he said.

Mr Bose, however, admitted that the people had boycotted polling in a few areas on local issues.

He said Bankura had recorded 70 to 75 per cent polling, while 70 per cent of the electorate cast votes in some areas of Purulia, including the Maoist-affected Bandwan and 65 per cent people cast votes in West Midnapore.

In some booths of Keshpur the turnout of voters was as high as 90 per cent, while in Amlasol it was 80 per cent. He said women voters had turned up in a large number in the morning in many areas.

''Still now large numbers of people are waiting in queues in front of many booths and polling is not supposed to be over even at 1800 hrs,'' he said claiming that the ruling Left Front would capture all the seats in Bankura and was expected to perform better in Purulia and West Midnapore.

Mr Bose, however, alleged that Bankura observer Aravinda Ravindran had turned furious and wanted explantation from the CPI(M) polling agent at a booth under Indus constituency for the absence of Trinamool Congress agent for which the CPI(M) had no responsibility.

''The EC observer has no right to behave like this. We do not have any responsibility for the Opposition agents. It is a shame Bengal as well as the Election Commission,'' he said.

The CPI(M) leader also alleged that Central Para Military Force jawans had harassed voters and beaten up the Presiding Officer.

He said polling started late in a number of booths in West Midnapore and Purulia due to snag in the Electronic Voting Machines.

To a question, Mr Bose said his party was still unhappy over holding the elections in five phases, but said it was 'good' that the Commission had responded to a request of state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee by deploying para military forces along the state's border with Jharkhand.

UNI KDG-AKM SJC PA PC1746

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