In a heavy turnout amid reports of sporadic violence, over 70 per cent of the electorate cast their votes till 3 PM in the election to 56 Assembly constituencies in the second phase of polling in West Bengal today.
Overall, 70.82 per cent voters exercised their franchise in six north Bengal districts of Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda, and Birbhum in south Bengal.
In seven constituencies of Birbhum, polling ended early at 4 PM as they were marked as left-wing extremism affected.
Voting will go on till 6 PM in the remaining constituencies.
Controversial Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mandal, who has been put under 24/7 surveillance by the Election Commission, stoked another controversy when he went to cast his vote sporting a batch of party symbol on his shirt.
“I didn’t realise it. But the presiding officer could have stopped me from going like this,” Mandal, Birbhum district president of the party, said later.
The Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against the alleged violation of the model code of conduct by him.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who was in Kolkata today, alleged that booth-capturing and false voting continued in the state.
“Despite the presence of central forces, there is a ‘bhoot’ (ghost) in the booths,” he said.
In Malda, a clash between CPI(M) and TMC supporters took place in front of a booth in the Englishbazar Assembly seat, in which two persons, including the TMC polling agent, were injured, the police said.
Trouble began when the TMC polling agent protested against alleged booth jamming by CPI(M). The two sides clashed with lathis outside the booth with the central forces finding it difficult to control them, polling officials said.
TMC agent Anup Sarkar was injured and admitted to the Malda Medical College and Hospital.
Polling was stalled for 45 minutes and later began as additional central forces were rushed to the area to control the situation.
TMC polling agent Asraful Hossain was beaten up at a booth in Chanchol constituency in Malda district allegedly by Chanchol ex-pradhan Maqbul Hossain of Congress, polling officials said.
As a result, polling was temporarily stalled.
Hossain has since been arrested, the police said.
Earlier in the morning, a clash between BJP and TMC workers left eight persons injured in Dumrut village of Birbhum at around 6 AM before polling began, an EC report said.
Three persons were later arrested by the police.
TMC candidate from Siliguri Assembly constituency Baichung Bhutia complained of bogus votes being cast at Sriguru Vidayapith booth and a complaint has been registered with EC.
The first phase of polling in West Bengal was held in two parts on April 4 and 11.
In the second phase, over 1.2 crore electorate will decide the fate of 383 candidates, including 33 women.