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35 per cent turnout till noon in Bengal Assembly election

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, May 3 (UNI) An estimated 35 per cent electorate cast their votes till noon in the fourth and penultimate phase of Assembly elections for 57 seats in three West Bengal districts of Bardhaman, Birbhum and Murshidabad today.

Chief Electoral Officer Debasish Sen said the polling was peaceful and no untoward incident had been reported from any part of the three districts.

Sources said Birbhum recorded around 35 per cent turnout, while Bardhaman and Murshidabad accounted for 30 and 35 per cent respectively.

Enthusiastic voters turned out in a large number in all the three districts braving gruelling heat and long queues are witnessed in front of every booth.

Polling had to start late in several booths following technical snag in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). In one booth at Raniganj in Burdwan district a faulty EVM showed every vote being polled in favour of the CPI(M) candidate, while the it was the light beside the name of the Congress nominee from Rampurhat constituency in Birbhum that only kept flashing with the press on any button. Following suspension in polling the machines in both the places were replaced, official sources said.

There were also reports of poll boycott in two booths of Birbhum and one in Burdwan on local issues.

The fate of 288 candidates -- 20 of them women -- would be decided in today's poll.

Prominent among the aspirants are Animal Resources Minister Anisur Rehman, Power Minister Mrinal Banerjee and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen, contesting as Left Front nominees, and Congress candidate Habibur Rehman and CLP leader Atish Sinha.

Altogether 435 companies of paramilitary jawans are in action to man all the 10,436 polling booths spread over 26 constituencies in Bardhaman, 19 in Murshidabad and 12 in Birbhum.

Strong vigil is on along the inter-state border between Jharkhand and the three poll-going districts, particularly Birbhum, having a long boundary with the neighbouring state on the west, to prevent infiltration of miscreants and smuggling of arms.

A total of 12,619 EVMs are being used in the elections, while the sensitive booths have come under the scanner of close circuit cameras.


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