Over 84 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise until 5 pm in the sixth and last phase of Assembly election in West Bengal on Thursday. While East Midnapore district recorded 85.09 per cent polling, 82.71 per cent votes were cast in Cooch Behar. The overall average till 5 pm was 84.24 per cent.
Two Trinamool Congress candidates in Cooch Behar district faced the poll panel's ire for allegedly interfering with the electoral process and threatening polling personnel. First information reports were lodged against Rabindranath Ghosh, TMC candidate from Natabari and Udyan Guha from Dinhata following complaints from the respective returning officers.
In Dinhata, the presiding officer was also removed by the Election Commission for not being able to stop Guha from entering the voting cubicle inside the booth. Over local issues, some people at two booths at Moyna constituency in East Midnapore district boycotted Thursday’s poll, officials said.
The police said that altogether they made 30 arrests during the day, out of which 29 were preventive arrests. For the first time since Independence, 9,776 residents of border enclaves in Cooch Behar were eligible to exercise their franchise, made possible by the formal inclusion of the enclaves in the Indian territory last year.
Among them was 103-year-old Asgar Ali who came along with family members of three generations to cast ballots for the first time. State chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta said
enthusiasm was noticed among the first-time voters over 80 per cent of whom turned out at the polling booths.
An electorate of over 58 lakh was eligible to cast ballots at 6,774 polling stations till 6 pm in 25 constituencies. In all 170 candidates, including 18 women, are in the fray in this phase.
During the day, the commission received over 1,500 complaints out of which around 40 were pending disposal. In East Midnapore's Bhupatinagar, there were complaints of voters being obstructed while in Kolaghat a voter complained that he was attacked when he went to vote and even his gold ring was snatched away.
Members of the Trinamool Congress lodged a complaint against Congress activists for assembling with arms near booth number 236 and jamming booth numbers 14, 107 and 249 of Moyna constituency in East Midnapore district.
Security personnel arrested five persons on the charge of giving food to voters near booth no 231 at Gobra in Moyna constituency. The police said two groups belonging to TMC and Congress were allegedly distributing food among voters.
Securitymen chased them and most of them fled but the five were caught.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist claimed that it could not put up polling
agents in 52 booths in Nandigram, to which TMC Member of Parliament Suvendu Adhikari replied, "We cannot be blamed for that".
"The TMC candidate of Natabari openly threatening the polling officer of dire consequences. Frustration for alienation at its height," CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said in a tweet.
TMC candidate and the party's district president Rabindranath Ghosh alleged high-handedness by central forces at Deocharai. Reports from Haldia in East Midnapore district said quoting police that a house belonging to a CPI-M supporter was attacked at Shankarpur in Ramnagar.
Two TMC leaders Alok Burman and Asok Burman were allegedly beaten up by CPI-M workers in Tamluk in East Midnapore district. Both have been hospitalised.
In Natabari, a presiding officer was removed after he fell sick.