In the poll-bound West Bengal, polling for the Fifth Phase of Assembly Elections is progressing smoothly. The polling, which begat at 7.00 A.M., will be conducted till 6.30 P.M. in the 45 Assembly Constituencies spread over six districts going to polls today.
The state is witnessing eight-phase elections. Polling is also being held simultaneously for the By-Elections of two Lok Sabha seats including Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Belgaum in Karnataka along with 12 Assembly Constituencies spread over nine states. The average voter turnout registered till 11.30 am in different states.
Peaceful polling is on in Darjeeling district. Senior officials confirmed that no untoward incident has been reported so far. A total of 104 candidates including 12 women are in the fray in the 3 districts of North Bengal in this phase.The districts are – Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri.
Over 18 lakh voters can exercise their voting rights at Jalpaiguri district while Kalimpong has 1.75 lakh voters. Over 12 lakh voters could vote at Darjeeling district. There are a total of 1 thousand 719 polling booths at Darjeeling district. 481 micro observers have been deployed at Darjeeling district.Nearly 900 booths have been covered by web casting facilities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the people to vote in large numbers in today’s fifth phase of West Bengal elections. He said the first time voters in particular should exercise their franchise. Mr Modi added that there are by-polls taking place in different parts of the country and asked voters in the seats to vote in record numbers and strengthen the festival of democracy.
All the necessary facilities and security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling during this phase. The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is being used along with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) at every Polling Station, with a view to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election process and the availability of adequate number of EVMs and VVPATs has already been ensured for the smooth conduct of elections.
In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the option of Postal Ballot facility has been extended to the electors who are COVID- 19 positive or suspect as certified by competent authority and are in home or institutional quarantine along with those marked as Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and above the age of 80 years. It has also been ensured that every Polling Station is equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, ramp of appropriate gradient for the Persons with Disabilities.
The special facilities include mandatory sanitization of Polling Station, thermal checking of voters at entry point either by polling staff or paramedical staff or an Asha worker. If temperature is above the set norms of Health Ministry, then the elector will be provided with token and asked to come for voting at the last hour of poll. At the last hour of poll, such electors will be facilitated for voting, strictly following COVID-19 related preventive measures.
The Commission has deployed 853 companies of Central Armed Police Forces in West Bengal for the Fifth Phase as compared to that in the previous phase. In the previous phase, 789 companies were deployed for 44 Assembly constituencies. The Election Commission sources said that out of these, 283 companies are deployed only in 24 Parganas district. It is intended to prevent recurrence of any untoward incident like Cooch Behar.
In West Bengal, the polling process is already over in respect of 135 out of total 294 Assembly seats in the earlier four phases. The state is witnessing eight-phase elections. During the Fifth Phase of State Assembly Elections, total 319 candidates including 39 women are vying for the 45 Assembly seats spread over six districts.
In West Bengal, total 319 candidates including 39 women are vying for the 45 Assembly seats during the Fifth Phase of State Assembly Elections. Over 1.13 crore voters including 56.11 lakh women and 224 Third Gender persons will decide the fate of these candidates.
In all, 15,789 Polling Stations have been set up for this purpose. Bharatiya Janata Party is contesting for all the 45 seats while ruling AITC is contesting 42 seats. Congress, Left parties and their alliance partner Indian Secular Front are fighting under the banner of Sanyukta Morcha. BSP has fielded 32 candidates, CPI (M) has 25, Congress – 11, AIFB – two, RSP, NPP and CPI one each while there are 83 independents along with 76 others are also in the fray.
The prominent candidates participating in this phase include State Ministers Goutam Deb from Dabgram-Fulbari, Tapas Roy from Baranagar, Bratya Basu from Dumdum and Siddiqullah Chowdhury from Monteswar along with Sujit Bose and former Mayor and BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta from Bidhanagar seat.
AITC Chief Whip Nirmal Ghosh from Panihati, Former Ministers Madan Mitra from Kamarhati, Bankim Chandra Ghosh from Chakdaha and Asoke Bhattachrya from Siliguri, Congress leader Sukhbilash Berma from Jalpaiguri, BJP leader Shamik Bhattachrya and singer and AITC candidate Aditi Munshi from Rajarhat-Gopalpur are also in the fray.
Besides, sitting BJP MP Jagannath Sarkar from Shantipur, former MP Dr. Tapas Mondal from Krishnaganj and former CPI (M) MP Alakesh Das from Haringhata along with actor Chiranjeet Chakrobarty from Barasat are also trying their luck.
Polling is also being held simultaneously for the By-Elections of two Lok Sabha seats including Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Belgaum in Karnataka along with 12 Assembly Constituencies spread over nine states. The ACs going in for the By-Polls include three in Rajasthan, two in Karnataka and one each in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Telangana and Uttarakhand. There are 151 candidates in the fray for 12 Assembly seats indicating largely multi-cornered contests.
Polling is going on peacefully amid tight security for 32 seats of three districts in South Bengal in this phase. Polling has began at 7am this morning for 16 seats of North 24 Parganas and 8seats each of Nadia and Purba Bardhaman. Voters have been standing in long queues since early morning, hours before the polling started, to cast their votes.
In wake of the surge in Covid cases throughout West Bengal, particularly in North 24parganas, wearing masks and maintaining safe distancing along with other covid protocols are being scrupulously followed in all the booths.