Over 80 percent polling in Bengal civic polls, LF alleges rigging

Kolkata, Sep 21 : Over 80 percent polling was reported in elections to 12 civic bodies in West Bengal Saturday, amid allegations of electoral malpractices and rigging levelled by opposition Left Front which "withdrew" candidates and demanded repoll in two municipalities.

The LF announced it was "withdrawing" all candidates and polling agents in Burdwan municipality of Burdwan district and Chakdah of Nadia district as the ruling Trinamool Congress "made the elections a farce by terrorising voters, beating up Front candidates and driving out its polling agents".

State Election Commissioner Mira Pande, who went for a spot inspection after hearing of poll malpractices at Panihati municipality of North 24 Parganas district, faced protests from supporters of ruling Trinamool.

Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra said: "We were forced to withdraw from the fray at Burdwan and Chakdah as the polls were reduced to a farce. If any of our candidates win in any ward, he or she will resign."

Pande said the announcement by a party that it is "withdrawing" all candidates would have no bearing on the polling process.

"It is their decision. We have not received any complaint," she said.

Poll officials said there were reports of clashes at Panhati, Guskara (Burdwan district), Dubrajpur (Birbhum district) and Habra (North 24 Parganas district).

"Otherwise polling was brisk. Over 80 percent voters exercised their franchised till late in the evening."

Calling the polls peaceful, free and fair, Trinamool national general secretary Mukul Roy rubbished the LF's allegations of electoral malpractices.

"It is strange that a political party wants to withdraw when polling process is almost over. They are so afraid of losing, that they are enacting such a dram," said Roy.

In the elections held in 2008, the LF had won five, Congress four and the Trinamool Congress three municipalities. The votes will be counted Sep 24.

--IANS (Posted on 21-09-2013)

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