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Over half of Bengal electorate vote across three LS seats

Over half of Bengal electorate vote across three LS seats

Kolkata, Apr 19 (UNI) Notwithstanding stray incidents of violence, an estimated 50.96 percent of the 5.6 million electorate on Friday voted in the first six hours across the three Lok Sabha constituencies of northern West Bengal -- Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri.
Voting has been by and large peaceful so far save some stray incidents of violence and voter intimidation, particularly from Cooch Behar seat, which is witnessing a high-profile battle between Union Minister of State for Home and BJP contestant Nisith Pramanick and Trinamool candidate Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia.
The reports of stray violence were received from Sitalkuchi, Mathabhanga, Sitai and elsewhere in Cooch Behar..
The Election Commission has restricted Bengal Minister and formidable Trinamool Congress leader Udayan Guha to the Dinhata segment after Pramanik appealed to the poll panel against his alleged intimidatory tactics. Guha was seen at the Dinhata police station this morning to complain about an alleged attack on the TMC block president at Jenkins High School in Dinhata.
Pramanik accused Guha of fomenting violence, saying the Bengal Minister knew very well that the Trinamool Congress was going to lick the dust.
He said, "Whatever the electorate decides, we are going to accept. "
Guha accused the poll officials of "siding" with the BJP.
He said he had never seen central forces being deployed a month before the polling day.
Though there has been no report of any untoward incident inside any polling booth, which are being guarded by armed central forces, so far 383 allegations of irregularities have been received by the poll panel in the first five hours.
The poll panel in Delhi has sought action taken reports from Cooch Behar, official sources said.
On Friday, a total of 27,63,506 women are among the voters spread across tea gardens, tribal belts, rural hamlets and urban pockets in the three LS constituencies who are eligible to choose their representatives from among 30 odd contestants in some 5814 booths until 5 pm. Long queues were seen outside many polling stations.
About 250 companies of armed central forces were deployed and some 10,000 state police personnel were posted to ensure peaceful and fair polling.

Thirteen extra CAPF companies were put on reserve to be used in case of any exigency.
Poll officials and election observers are monitoring the voting process in the field.
Though the contest is multi-cornered, the real fight could be between the state's ruling Trinamool Congress and the main opposition - the Bharatiya Janata Party. The latter won all three seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
The contest is expected to be between Pramanik and Basunia in the Cooch Behar seat, in Alipurduar between Monoj Tigga (BJP) and TMC's Prakash Chik Baraik, and in Jalpaiguri between Jayanta Kumar Roy of BJP and Nirmal Chandra Roy from the ruling party.
Pramanik was among those who exercised their franchise in the first phase polling.
The voting process commenced at 7 AM under a tight security arrangement. UNI PC-SJC SSP

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