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81 per cent polling in first phase elections

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, Apr 18 (UNI) About 81 per cent people cast their votes in the first of the five-phase Assembly elections in West Bengal yesterday with most of the booths recording high polling.

Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) Debasish Sen today said more than 80 per cent votes were polled in 5460 out of a total 7749 booths in Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore districts, where polling was held yesterday.

'' Following the final calculation of overall polling, the percentage stands at 80.98 per cent. A primary estimate shows that more than 80 per cent votes were polled in 5460 booths, '' he told re-porters here.

Despite very high polling, the EC, however, did not order repolling in any of these booths, except in two of Jhalda constituency in Purulia were polling could not be held because of faulty electronic voting machines.

'' As per the standing order of the EC, the observers and Returning Officers scrutinsed the relevant papers in those booths where more than 80 per cent votes were polled and submitted their reports to the Commission. The EC has ordered repolling in booth number 123 and 170 of Jhalda constituency where polling could not be held because of malfunctioning of EVMs, '' he said.

To a question whether the Commission did not find anything abnormal in the high polling to refrain from ordering re polling, the CEO evaded by saying ''adjective is yours.'' The re polling in two Jhalda booths would be held tomorrow between 0700 and 1700 hrs, he said.

Giving a district wise break-up, Mr Sen said Bankura and West Midnapore recorded 82 per cent polling each, while 77 per cent votes were cast in Purulia.

More than 80 per cent voters cast their votes in 1540 booths in Bankura, 934 in Purulia and 2986 booths in West Midnapore.

The overall polling in these three districts was 75 per cent in the 2001 Assembly elections.

Yesterday's polling was marked by a very high turnout of voters in most of the areas belying the fear of Maoist threat and the presence of a massive number of para military force jawans.

Voters were seen queuing up in front of a large number of booths till late in the evening and polling continued till 22 30 hrs in many areas.

The CEO said the high turnout was possible because of revised electoral rolls and a confidence instilled among the voters following elaborate security measures.

He, however, said central forces would be present in less number during the second phase of polling on April 22 in East Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah and Nadia districts.


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