Kolkata: The battle for West Bengal’s 294 assembly seats kicked off on Saturday with elections being held for 30 seats in its first phase of poll amid tight security across five districts, most of which are in the once-Naxal-affected Jungle Mahal region. The eight phase elections will see ruling Trinamool Congress giving a tough competition to its rival BJP party, which is adamant to dethrone TMC government from the power in the state.
Of 30 seats in phase one, 23 are from Jungle Mahal. For the phase 1, the TMC and BJP have fielded candidates in 29 seats each, while the Left-Congress-ISF alliance has put up candidates in all 30 seats, even as there are “friendly fights in some.
Most of these 30 seats are spread across tribal-dominated Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Purba Medinipur (Part 1) and Paschim Medinipur (Part 1) districts. Bengal has a total of 294 assembly seats.
It is to be mentioned that 26 of the 30 constituencies where voting will be held today had voted for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the last assembly elections. But the BJP swept them in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Voting for the high-decibel election to the West Bengal legislative Assembly will continue in seven more phases till 29 April. People will vote for their choice among 191 candidates in 30 constituencies in this phase.
Bengal reported 79.79 per cent voter turnout in the first phase of the 2021 Assembly election
-Violence broke out in Nandigram as activist of BJP, TMC clash, three injured
-A clash broke out on Saturday between activists of the BJP and the TMC in Purba Medinipur’s Nandigram constituency — which is set to go to polls on April 1 — leaving at least three persons seriously injured, a senior police officer said.
-Voting underway at a polling booth in Contai in the first phase of polling for West Bengal Assembly elections
17:31 (IST) Mar 27
-Around 77.99% voter turnout recorded till 5pm, in the first phase of polling in West Bengal assembly elections
-Total 70.17% voter turnout recorded till 4pm
-Mamata’s controversial audio clip seeking help from BJP leader to win Nandigram stirs row in Bengal amid ongoing state assembly elections.
-A huge controversy erupted on Saturday amid the polling for 30 assembly seats in West Bengal, with the BJP releasing an audio clip where chief minister Mamata Banerjee is purportedly heard wooing a BJP leader from Nandigram to rejoin the TMC and help her win the seat. A BJP delegation, led by party general secretary and Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya, met the state’s chief electoral officer and handed over the tape, claiming Banerjee was using her official position to influence the outcome of the bitterly contested assembly poll.
-West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee targets BJP from Kharagpur, says “Sometimes they say Mamata has brought people from Bangladesh and did infiltration. But he (PM) himself goes to Bangladesh for vote marketing.”
– West Bengal records estimated 70.17% voter turnout till 4.12 pm, the official Election Commission app showed. The Jhargram district, which was in the lead on Saturday morning, was narrowly surpassed by the Purba Medinipur district, which recorded 72.32 percent voter turnout. Meanwhile, Jhargram recorded 72.10 percent so far.
-Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee says will complain to EC about Modi’s Bangladesh visit, “In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when a Bangladeshi actor attended our rally, BJP spoke to the Bangladesh government and cancelled his visa… When polls are underway here, you (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) go to Bangladesh to seek votes from one section of people, why shouldn’t your visa be cancelled? We will complain to EC,” said Mamata at a rally in Kharagpur on Saturday adding “Elections are underway here and he (PM) goes to Bangladesh and lectures on Bengal. It is a total violation of code of conduct of the election.”
-The Jhargram district is currently in the lead in terms of voter turnout, with 72.10 percent as of 3.53 pm.
-Sisir Adhikari, the father of TMC turncoat and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, cast his vote at a polling booth in Contai. Sisir followed in his son’s footsteps and joined the BJP last week.
“We will take the help of more Central forces at polling booths from now only ahead of second phase of elections,” he said.
-Estimated 55.76% voter turnout recorded in Bengal till 3 pm while, the highest voter turnout was recorded in the Bankura district (64.04 percent), followed by the Jhargram district (59.23 percent) and then the Purbo Medinipur district (57.75 percent).
-TMC alleges voting discrepancy in Kanthi Dakshin seat through its official twitter account. Trinamool Congress tweeted that voters in the Kanthi Dakshin seat were casting their ballot for TMC but the VVPAT was showing them the BJP symbol.
-EC officials conduct thermal screening at polling stations.
-A delegation of TMC leaders meets EC in Kolkata, demands local to be appointed as polling agent “BJP had submitted a memorandum requesting to change the system of appointing booth agents wherein he must be a voter of the concerned booth&allow anybody at any booth,” said TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
“The new system is not acceptable to us. We demand that from the next phase the polling agent must be local of the concerned polling booth. CEO has assured us to look into the matter,” he added.
54.90% turnout till 1.40 pm
-Dilip Ghosh casts vote from Jhargram
-According to the EC’s data, 37.55 percent voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in the first phase of polling in the West Bengal Assembly elections.
-Sporadic violence marks first phase of Bengal polls. The incidents of violence were reported from some areas that are voting in the first phase of the Assembly elections in West Bengal on Saturday, even as the overall poll situation was peaceful with 36.09 percent turnout recorded till 11 am, officials said.
-Elections are being held in 30 seats, most of which are in the once-Naxal-affected Jungle Mahal region, across five districts amid tight security, they said.
“Till 11 am the voter turnout is 36.09 percent. It has been by and large peaceful so far,” a senior Election Commission official said.
-West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh casts his vote at a polling booth in Jhargram in the first phase of Assembly elections.
-Soumendu isn’t injured, his driver was beaten up, says TMC’s Dibyendu Adhikari, I got to know that vehicle (of Soumendu Adhikari) was attacked in Contai with help of TMC block president Ram Govind Das. Soumendu isn’t injured. Driver was beaten up. I’ve informed Police Observer.”
-Car of Suvendu Adhikari’s brother, Soumendu, BJP agent of south Contai candidate was vandalised in Kanthi South in West Medinipur district. The BJP is pointing fingers at TMC for the violence. According to local media reports, the driver was injured.
-Meanwhile, BJP West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya will be meeting poll officials later on Saturday to report the incidents of violence.
-36.09% voter turnout till 12 pm
-Mamata under pressure to allege ‘rigging’ claims says Dilip Ghosh responding to TMC’s allegation of ‘rigging’. BJP’s Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh on Saturday said, “TMC knows that it is losing and that’s why it is saying all this. For such complaints, TMC should go to the Election Commission. TMC and Mamata Banerjee are under pressure and that is why they are saying such things.”
-TMC delegation to meet Bengal CEO on Saturday at 12 pm to raise some concerns over ‘rigging, as voting for the first phase of Assembly elections is underway.
-Poll panels’ vehicle set ablaze at Bandwan in Purulia district on Friday night, hours before the first phase of Assembly elections get underway, official sources said. The vehicle was reportedly on its way back after dropping election officials at a polling station, when it was set on fire at Tulsidi village in the once-Maoist-affected ‘Jangalmahal’ belt of the state, they said.
-According to eyewitnesses, the vehicle was stopped by a few persons who emerged out of the forests all of a sudden and allegedly threw a petrol-soaked material on it, before fleeing. No one was injured in the incident, the sources said.
Voter turnout till 9:50 am in West Bengal:
1) Bankura: 18.36%
2) Jhargram: 16.17%
3) Paschim Medinipur: 16.75%
4) Purba Medinipur: 13.70%
5) Purulia: 13.97%
-Soumendu Adhikari, BJP leader and brother of Suvendu Adhikari on Saturday told media that voters are being influenced and stopped from voting at booth number 149. He also alleged that EVM malfunctioning is being witnessed at some locations, adding that the Election Commission is looking into it.
-Nandigram BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari had on Friday written to the Election Commission, seeking suspension of Haldia Additional SP Partha Ghosh, Haldia SDPO Barunbaidya and some other officers of Nandigram Police Station “for helping TMC members in carrying out malpractices, irregularities during polls”.
-Two security personnel injured after a firing incident was reported in Satsatmal, Bhagabanpur Assembly seat on Saturday ahead of voting for West Bengal polls, reported ANI.
“Those associated with TMC trying to terrorize people in Argoal panchayat area, said BJP district president Anup Chakraborty.
-BJP complains to EC over TMC’s Purulia candidate ‘distributing cash’ among voters
-The BJP on Friday drew the attention of the EC to a video in which a Trinamool Congress candidate is seen allegedly distributing cash among the electorate. The BJP also made complaints about TMC workers “unleashing terror” in poll-bound districts in collusion with a section of the state police.
-In a letter to the poll panel, the saffron party attached links of the video, released on Friday, which showed an ex-minister and a TMC candidate from Purulia purportedly distributing cash among the voters. “It is a blatant violation of the model code of conduct that says all parties and candidates shall avoid scrupulously all activities which are corrupt practices and offences under the election law,” the letter signed by senior state BJP leaders said.
-TMC workers influencing voters in West Medinipur: BJP’s Samit Das
-BJP’s candidate for West Medinipur Samit Das on Saturday alleged that few TMC workers tried to influence voters at polling booth 206 and 207 during the phase 1 of West Bengal polls. “Voting underway smoothly in Midnapore town. But, at some places in rural areas, TMC workers are trying to create a disturbance. At booth no. 266 and 267, seven-eight TMC workers entered the booth to influence the voters. We’ve complained to EC,” said Das.
-BJP’s Samit Das casts vote from West Medinipur
-BJP candidate from West Medinipur, Samit Das on Saturday cast his vote at a polling booth in the first phase of West Bengal Assembly election. The Trinamool has fielded actor June Malia, a known face in the Bengali silver screen, from the Medinipur seat against Das.
-EVM malfunction reported in Kharagpur. According to media reports, voting on Saturday was stopped in Kharagpur after EVM malfunction was reported from polling booth 98 and 99.
-The Kharagpur constituency lies in the West Midnapore district of West Bengal. It is part of the Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency. In 2016, the constituency had a total of 1,99,151 registered electors.
Key candidates in phase 1 of Bengal polls
Some of the key candidates for phase 1 of West Bengal Assembly polls are — Trinamool’s Sujoy Banerjee, BJP’s Sudip Mukherjee and the Congress’s Partha Prathim Banerjee in Purulia; Trinamool’s June Malia, BJP’s Samit Das and CPM’s Tarun Kumar Ghosh in Medinipur; Trinamool’s Dinen Ray, BJP’s Tapan Bhuiya and CPM’s Saddam Ali from Kharagpur, among others.
Voting underway in Purulia for phase 1
To not, over 73 lakh (total 73,80,942) voters from five districts, all of Purulia and Jhargram, and parts of Bankura, West Medinipur and East Medinipur, will vote in the around 10,200 booths and will decide the fate of 191 candidates in the first phase of the Bengal election.
In the phase-1 of polling on Saturday, 23 seats of Jungle Mahal, which has an SC population of 22 percent and an ST population of 15 percent, will vote.
The elections will be held amid tight security with the EC deploying around 684 companies of central forces that would guard 10,288 polling booths housed in 7,061 premises, officials said. Besides, the state police will also be deployed at strategic locations, they added.
In the first phase, polling will take place amid strict COVID-19 guidelines in all nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram and six in Paschim Medinipur, besides the seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur — the home ground of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.
West Bengal will be voting in eight phases for 294 seats, starting on Saturday. The votes will be counted on 2 May.