The fifth and penultimate phase of West Bengal Assembly polls in 53 constituencies today recorded a voter turnout of 78.25 per cent and polling was peaceful, even as FIRs were registered against two Presiding Officers and a TMC candidate for alleged intimidation of voters and for helping a particular party.
EC’s Deputy Election Commissioner and in-charge of West Bengal, Sandeep Saxena told a press conference that, “based on SMS-based information from polling officers, at 5 PM the voter turnout in fifth phase was 78.25 per cent.”
This is against 82.77 per cent final voting recorded during the 2011 assembly elections in the three districts of Hoogly, Kolkata South district and South 24-Parganas, that went to polls today. In 2014 Parliamentary elections, the said area recorded a polling percentage of 80.22 per cent.
“Three FIRs have also been registered in an otherwise peaceful polls and 17 arrests have been made so far and more arrests are likely,” he said.
An FIR was registered against Sonali Guha, the Trinamool Congress candidate from Satgachhia assembly constituency, for allegedly intimidating voters by instructing her polling agents to shoo away the voters of opposite candidate.
Another FIR was registered against presiding officers in Tarkeshwar and Arambagh, for allegedly helping a particular candidate and party.
He said police forces were very active during today’s polls and crude bomb was also detected by them.
Election Commission had taken some “very effective measures” for this fifth phase of polling, that included night patrolling by central police forces, additional nakas in the three districts, especially during night time to help avoid entry of outsiders into the constituencies, the Deputy Election Commissioner said.
Besides, he said, the international border in 24 Paranans district was also sealed to stop infiltration and the borders were effectively sealed from both river and road fronts.
Saxena said a total of 1,763 control and ballot units were used during these polls, in which VVPAT was also used. A total of 6,140 arms were also deposited in the area against a total of 7,863 weapons in the three districts.
The EC officials said for ensuring a peaceful poll, a total of 10,210 non-bailable warrants were executed during elections and 2,622 anti-social elements were rounded up.
During searches to ensure money power is not used for influencing voters, a total of Rs 1.33 crore was seized along with 374 illegal arms and 714 ammunition.
In today’s polls, a total of 1.24 electors exercised their franchise, including 63.84 lakh male voters and 60.04 lakh female voters, besides 198 third gender electors. A total of 349 candidates were in the fray for today’s polls, that were held in 14,642 polling stations at 8,313 locations.
Referring to poll percentage, Saxena said the two parts of Phase I saw 84.22 and 83.73 per cent voter turnout, while phase 2 witnessed 83.05 per cent voting and phase 3 saw 82.28 per cent voting. Phase 4 of polls recorded a voter turnout of 81.25 per cent.