Guwahati/Kolkata: High voter turnout was recorded in the assembly polls in Assam and West Bengal where an estimated 79 per cent and 75 per cent of the voters cast their ballots on Monday till around 4:30 pm amid sporadic clashes and police firing that resulted in the death of an elderly voter.
In Assam, where balloting was held in 61 constituencies in the second and final phase, an 80-year-old voter died in a scuffle between CRPF personnel and the locals over forming a queue at a polling station in Sorbhog seat in Barpeta district, officials said. Three others, including a CRPF Assistant Commandant and a constable were also injured in the incident.
Security personnel fired in the air to quell a protest at at Chaygaon in Kamrup district after a CRPF constable allegedly "misbehaved" with a pregnant voter who re-entered a polling station to pick up her child whom she had inadvertently forgotten to carry while leaving after casting her vote. The entire team of CRPF deployed in the polling station was replaced after the incident, the district superintendent of police Prasanta Saikia said.
Long queues were seen outside polling booths since early morning and prominent among those who cast their vote was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress from the state since 1991. Singh came to Guwahati from Delhi to cast his ballot at Dispur Government High School. There were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs from some polling centres but the machines were replaced immediately, election office said.
Prominent among those whose fate will be decided in the second phase include cabinet ministers Rakibul Hussain, Chandan Sarkar and Nazrul Islam of Congress, AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and BJP national spokesman Sidhartha Bhattacharya. Also in the fray is former Congress minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who revolted against Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and later joined BJP last year.
There are 525 candidates in the fray.
Congress, which under Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is seeking a fourth straight term in power, has fielded 57 candidates, BJP 35, its allies AGP 19 and BPF 10, AIDUF 47, CPI-M nine and CPI five. 65 of the state's 126 seats had gone to polls on April 4.
In West Bengal, where TMC leader Mamata Banerjee is seeking a second term in office, an estimated 75 per cent voters cast their ballots till around 4:30 pm in 31 seats where voting was held in the second part of the first phase of poll.
Braving the blazing sun, people lined up at polling stations since early morning.
Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from polling booths in Jamuria constituency in Burdwan. A CPI(M) agent was injured after he was allegedly beaten up by Trinamool Congress workers and prevented from entering a polling booth, though
TMC denied the allegation. Two bags containing bombs were found near a polling booth in Jamuria by police.
A scuffle broke out between TMC and CPI(M) supporters at Narayangarh in West Midnapore district after the Left party's state secretary and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, who is contesting from the constituency faced demonstration by ruling party workers.
Polling was interrupted for some time at a booth in Pandaveswar constituency in Burdwan district when a polling officer Parimal Bauri died of heart attack. Voting resumed after another officer took charge. There were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs from some places but those were replaced.
Prominent among those whose fate would be decided in today's polling included state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, former WBPCC president Manas Bhunia, state minister Malay Ghatak, actor Soham Chakrabarty besides Surjya Kanta Mishra.
Altogether 163 candidates, including 21 women, are in the fray from 31 seats in West Midnapore, Bankura and Burdwan districts. The ruling TMC, Left-Congress alliance and BJP, which has only one MLA in the outgoing Assembly, have fielded their nominees for all the seats....