Kolkata, Apr 30 UNI | 3 months ago

About 25 per cent of the 13943063 voters in nine Lok Sabha constituencies exercised their franchise in the first two hours as voting began at 0700 hours for 3rd of the five-phase Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal today.

Election Commission office said barring some reports of stray incidents and malfunctioning of EVMs, the polling was by and large peaceful.

Altogether 87 contestants are trying their luck in Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly, Arambagh, Bardhaman(Purba), Bardhaman-Durgapur, Bolpur and Birbhum spread over four south Bengal districts.

EC office said in the first two hours 35 per cent votes were polled in Howrah, 26.07 per cent in Uluberia, 21.39 per cent in Sreerampur, 26.11 per cent in Aarambagh, 25.82 per cent in Burdaman Purba, 24.03 per cent in Burdman-Durgapur, 25.91 per cent in Bolpur, 24.10 per cent in Birbhum and 24.25 per cent in Hooghly.

Prominent among the candidates, including 13 women, are popular musician-singer Bappi Lahiri, Bengali film heroine Shatabdi Roy and film actor Joy Banerjee, journalist and BJP national executive member Chandan Mitra, former captain of the Indian football team Prasun Banerjee and film actor George Baker.

Altogether 13943063 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in 17330 polling booths, 173 of which be run by women.

In the industrial belt of Howrah, sitting MP Prasun Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress is locked in a fight with CPI(M) state secretariat member Sridip Bhattacharya and BJP nominee George Baker, among others, in a six-cornered contest, while Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee defends his Sreerampur seat against BJP candidate Bappi Lahiri, Congress leader Abdul Mannan, and CPI(M) youth leader Tirthankar Roy.

In Hooghly, Chandan Mitra is pitted against among others, sitting MP Ratna De Nag of the Trinamool Congress in a four-cornered fight while in Birbhum Shatabdi Roy seeks re-election on Trinamool Congress ticket fighting it out with CPI(M)'s Dr Kamre Elahi and fellow actor Joy Banerjee of the BJP.

In 2009, the Trinamool Congress won five of these nine seats--Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampur, Hooghly and Birbhum and the CPI(M) the rest.

The EC has engaged general observers, expenditure observers, police observers and micro-observers to conduct the election smoothly. Arrangements have been made for webcasting and live monitoring of sensitive areas.

(Posted on 30-04-2014)