The fate of 83 contestants were decided by the electorate in the fifth phase of polling. (Image Credit: IANS)
A total 74.49 per cent of the 1,16,91,889-strong electorate cast their votes in seven parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal till 5 pm in the fifth phase on Monday, an Election Commission official said. Polling was largely peaceful barring some stray incidents in which at least 12 people, including five journalists were injured in clashes between TMC and BJP workers at different places, West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab told reporters.
Till 5 pm, the highest polling had taken place in Uluberia with 77.57 per cent, Bongaon (SC) 76.18 per cent, Hooghly recording 76.14 per cent, Arambagh (SC) 75.73 per cent, Sreerampore 73.31 per cent, Barrackpore 71.28 per cent and Howrah 67.59 per cent, Aftab said.
The fate of 83 contestants were decided by the electorate. Incidents of hurling of bombs, injury of a candidate due to lathi charge by central forces, EVM damage besides, manhandling of a contestant and beating up of a polling agent were also reported.
The incidents were reported from Bangaon(SC), Barrackpore, Hooghly and Howrah constituencies, the official said.
"We have taken immediate steps in these places as per requirement," he said.
Five FIRs were lodged, including one against BJP's Barrackpore candidate Arjun Singh and another against its Hooghly candidate Locket Chatterjee.
Out of a total 42 people, 39 were arrested due to preventive measures and remaining three under specific complaints, West Bengal ADG (Law and Order) Siddhi Nath Gupta said.
A scuffle between Barrackpore seat's BJP candidate Arjun Singh and central forces was reported when the former TMC MLA tried to enter a booth following allegations that voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise there, the official said.
Singh, who was allegedly injured during the scuffle, was later seen chasing "fake voters" in Naihati area.
"Our agents were not allowed inside booths. People were not allowed to vote properly and I went there to have a look. I have the right to enter booths but police stopped me and hit me," Singh told PTI.
Alleging that the police did not do anything to stop rigging in some booths of Barrackpore seat, Singh demanded that polling be stopped and re-polling ordered.
The maximum number of "sensitive" booths in Monday's elections were in Barrackpore seat where TMC sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi has been pitted against Singh, who switched over to the BJP recently after he was denied a ticket by party supremo Mamata Banerjee.
In Howrah's Balitikuri, Trinamool candidate and former India footballer Prasun Bandyopdhayay was "manhandled" allegedly by central forces when he tried to enter a booth there.
Bandyopadhyay said, "I had gone there to see poll proceedings. There was nothing wrong in it. But the central forces manhandled me for no reason."
An FIR was lodged in this connection, he said adding the EC is yet to give any confirmation about receiving any police complaint in connection with the incident.
Specific complaints were received against the central forces in connection to the assault of Bandyopadhyay, Gupta said.
The EC received complaints against the central forces from Gayeshpur and Uluberia, besides Balitikuri.
"Necessary actions will be taken as per law," he added.
Bombings were reported from outside a booth at Hingli in Bangaon constituency following a clash between two groups allegedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool and the BJP injuring two persons, the official said.
There were reports about a CPI(M) agent being beaten up and driven out of a booth in Arambagh constituency. At a booth in Hooghly seat, BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee was seen threatening a polling officer. She is contesting the poll against TMC's two-term MP Ratna De Nag.
A presiding officer at a booth in Tarakeswar was removed after one person, allegedly a TMC leader, was seen casting votes on behalf of others there.
"We have removed him and brought in another official in his place," the official said.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and Left Front constituent CPI(M) are the main contenders in the seven seats.