More than 62% polling till 1300 hrs in Bengal amid allegations of rigging
More than 62 per cent votes were cast till 1300 hrs in a very high turnout affair as polling was underway in nine constituencies for 3rd of the five-phase Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal today.
Alleging widespread rigging and booth capturing by ruling Trinamool Congress activists in different constituencies, opposition Left Front and Congress demanded immediate intervention of the Election Commission.
Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said 62.25 per cent of the 1,39,43,034 electorate had already exercised their franchise in the first five hours since polling began at 0700 hrs.
He said till 1300 hrs, 64.02 per cent polling was recorded in Birbhum, 70.71 per cent in Bolpur, 58.47 per cent in Sreerampur, 45.21 per cent in Howrah, 64.03 per cent in Hooghly, 65.04 per cent in Arambagh, 58.86 per cent in Uluberia, 62.62 per cent in Bardhaman Purba and 61.60 per cent in Bardhaman-Durgapur.
Altogether 87 contestants are trying their luck in this phase of election.
The EC said barring some reports of stray incidents and malfunctioning of EVMs, the polling was by and large peaceful.
However, Left Front chairman Biman Basu alleged that Trinamool workers rigged polls in at least 136 booths of Arambagh and 97 booths under Uluberia constituencies in Hooghly district and drove out polling agents of the opposition candidates. Incidents of widespread booth capturing took place also in Birbhum, Bardhaman Purba and Bardhaman-Durgapur constituencies, he said.
"We shall demand repolling in all the booths where rigging took place. Without repolling, the people's verdict will not be reflected in this election," he said.
Mr Basu alleged that EC 'failed to take action' even after the Left Front apprised it of the situation.
Opposition leaders alleged largescale rigging and booth capturing by activists of the ruling Trinamool Congress who were 'intimidating' agents of the opposition candidates.
Congress candidate from Sreerampur Abdul Mannan alleged rigging of votes in some booths of the constituency. Former president of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, Pradip Bhattacharjee alleged that the scale of rigging and booth capturing was 'unprecedented.'
(Posted on 30-04-2014)