Kolkata May 19 (IANS) Over 32 per cent electorates cast their votes across nine parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal till 11 a.m. on Sunday where the seventh and final phase of polling is underway amid reports of sporadic violence and EVM malfunctioning.
Braving the scorching heat, large number of voters of various age groups lined up outside polling stations in the constituencies of Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North.
As of 11 a.m., the voter turnout was the highest in Barasat (36.94), followed by Mathurapur (34.90), Diamond Harbour (34.40), Dumdum (34.10), Basirhat (33.90), Jadavpur(31.59), Jaynagar (29.60), Kolkata South (27.69), Kolkata North (25.41).
Voting began at 7 a.m. and will end at 6 p.m.
In the initial hours, polling was halted at a number of booths due to faulty Electronic Voting Machines.
Polling at three booths in Dum Dum’s Nagerbazar area and another at South City College under the South Kolkata seat was delayed by more than an hour, while voting did not begin until 9.30 a.m. at a booth in Jadavpur’s Sonarpur.
Cases of EVM failures were also reported at several booths in Diamond Harbour, Joynagar, Barasat, Dum Dum and both the constituencies of the eastern metropolis.
At Kolkata North’s park Circus, stones were pelted at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Rahul Sinha, injuring a cameraperson of a local news channel.
Later, bombs were hurled near the city’s Posta area causing panic among the locals. Large contingent of police and central force personnel rushed to the spot.
In Basirhat constituency’s Minakha, BJP supporters created a road blockade, accusing the Trinamool Congress activists of threatening them and impeding them from going to the polling booths.
However, the blockade was withdrawn after Central forces reached the spot and escorted the voters to the polling stations.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) North Kolkata candidate Kaninika Bose (Ghosh) staged a protest demonstration in Belgachia, alleging that her party’s polling agents were beaten up and not allowed to sit inside the booths in the area.
In Jadavpur where Trinamool Congress has fielded popular actress and political greenhorn Mimi Chakraborty, BJP candidate Anupam Hazra complained of proxy voting by the ruling party supporters.
“Many of our voters are not allowed to cast their votes. They are being sent away by Trinamool booth agents after putting ink on their fingers. Clearly, proxy voting is going on here,” Hazra said.
In the constituency’s Baruipur area, Trinamool Congress booth president Azizur Rahman, allegedly guided many voters to cast their votes for the state’s ruling party.
The presiding officer accepted that the accused was “helping out” voters to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, Trinamool’s Kolkata South candidate Mala Roy said that she was not allowed to enter a polling booth at Mudiali by the central forces after an EVM failure was reported.
At least 1,49,10,643 eligible voters will decide the fate of 111 candidates — 94 male, 17 female — in 17,058 polling booths across the nine seats.
The Kolkata North seat has the highest number of candidates (21), while it also has the lowest number of electorate.
To ensure peaceful polls, 710 companies of central paramilitary forces, 461 Quick Response Teams (QRT) and state police personnel have been deployed in the nine constituencies spread over three districts — Kolkata, 24 Parganas North and 24 Parganas South.
Stakes are high at a number of parliamentary constituencies as several political heavyweights like Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee (Diamond Harbour), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose (Kolkata South), BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha (Kolkata North), former Kolkata mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya (Jadavpur), veteran Trinamool Congress MPs Sougata Roy (Dum Dum) and Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Kolkata North) are contesting in the final phase of Lok Sabha polls here.