An estimate of 80.85 per cent of 34.52 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the two Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal where polling was held in the first phase on Thursday, officials said. "Today we had a peaceful polling in the two constituencies of Coochbehar and Alipurduar. However, There have been some isolated incidents," Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab said.
While 80.11 per cent voters cast their votes in Cooch Behar (SC) constituency, 81.58 per cent polling was recorded in Alipurduar (ST) seat, till 5 pm, he said. Eight persons seven in Coochbehar and one in Alipurduar were arrested as a part of protective measures, ADG (Law and Order) Siddh Nath Gupta said adding that three FIRs were lodged.
One incident of skirmish happened outside a polling station at Dinhata in Coochbehar, while polling was stopped at a booth in Sitalkuchi for some time after the data of mock poll were found not deleted there, he said.
A case was lodged against five persons in Mathabhanga for their alleged involvement in vandalising a vehicle of the Forward Bloc, a constituent of the CPI(M)-led Left Front. One presiding officer at Sitalkuchi was showcased following complaints that he had allowed some persons inside the booth.
The ruling Trinamool Congress complained that polling was not free and fair in the two parliamentary seats. On that, Aftab said, "There was no reports of any major incident of violence. Whenever we got any complaint, we took appropriate action. Tomorrow there will be scrutiny of the complaints and in case if there is anything we will take necessary actions."
On a complaint about a BSF jawan entering a booth, Gupta said the matter was taken up with the BSF authorities. A total of 34,51,883 electorate in the two constituencies will decide the fate of 18 candidates. The ruling TMC and the BJP are the main contenders in the two north Bengal seats, while Left Front constituents Forward Bloc and RSP are fighting to prove their existence.
Trinamool Congress leader and North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh alleged that EVMs malfunctioned in several booths and it could be part of a conspiracy to manipulate votes.
"I have never seen such an election ever in my life. Jut within two hours, so many EVMs have started malfunctioning. I have been calling the observers and nobody is answering," Ghosh told PTI. Cooch Behar district has the distinction of housing 51 enclaves, which became a part of India in 2015 after the exchange with Bangladesh. The enclaves have 15,000 dwellers.
Polling in the remaining 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held in six more phases