Voters waiting in a queue at a polling station in Nalbari district of Assam, in the second phase of elections to the state legislative assembly, on April 1, 2021.
Voters waiting in a queue at a polling station in Nalbari district of Assam, in the second phase of elections to the state legislative assembly, on April 1, 2021.

More than 80% voting in Bengal, 73% in Assam in second phase of Assembly elections

Kolkata/Guwahati, April 1, 2021

More than 80 per cent of the electorate in West Bengal and 73 per cent of the voters in Assam exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assemblies of the two States that concluded without any major untoward incident amidst tight security today.

Polling was held today in 39 constituencies in West Bengal and 39 in Assam and the Election Commission of India (ECI) said voting was conducted peacefully.

According to the Commission, the voter turnout in West Bengal was 80.43% till 5 pm and 73.03% in Assam, when one hour of voting still remained. The final voting figures are expected to be higher once all the information from remote polling stations is received.

"Elaborate arrangements made for COVID safe, intimidation free and inducement free elections," the ECI said in a press release.

More than 73 lakh voters in Assam and 76 lakh voters in West Bengal were eligible to vote in the 69 constituences across the two States that went to the polls today. The Commission had set up a total of 21,212 polling stations in these constituencies.

All eyes today were on the Nandidgram constituency in East Medinipur district of West Bengal where Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, seeking a third term in office, was pitted against Shubhendu Adhikari, her former aide who switched sides to the BJP in the run-up to the elections.

Voters could be seen queueing up at many polling stations in both States soon after voting began at 7 am.

In Assam, there were 345 candidates, including 26 women, in the fray in the 39 constituencies, spread over 13 districts, that went to the polls today in the second of three phases of polling.

More than 73.44 lakh voters, including 36.09 lakh women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in these constituencies. A total of 10,592 polling stations had been set up in these constituencies.

The main contest in the State is between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress-led Mahajot or Grand Alliance. The NDA allies include Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) while the Mahajot includes the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) and the Left parties.

A third combine, consisting of the Assom Jatiya Party (AJP) and Raijor Dal is also there.

The BJP had put up 34 candidates for the seats at stake today, while the Cogress had fielded 28, the AJP 19, the AIUDF 7, the AGP six and the BPF four. There were also 176 independent candidates.

In Thursday's balloting, the electoral fate of several Assam Ministers including Fisheries, Excise, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Piyush Hazarika and Irrigation Minister Bhabesh Kalita as well as Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar was sealed.

Suklabaidya is contesting from the Dholai seat for the seventh time on a BJP ticket, Hazarika from Jagiroad and Kalita from Rangia.

Former Congress Minister Gautam Roy is contesting from Katigorah on a BJP ticket, while former Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who resigned from the BJP after he was denied ticket and was subsequently expelled, is contesting as an independent candidate from Silchar.

In West Bengal, there were 171 candidates, including 19 women, in the fray for the 30 seats that went to the polls today in the second of eight phases of polling.

More than 75.94 lakh people, including 37.13 lakh women, were eligible to vote in these constituencies. A total of 10,620 polling stations had been set up in these constituencies.

The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested in all the constituencies involved in today's polling.

The Congress, the Left parties and the Indian Secular Front are fighting the elections jointly under the banner of Sanyukt Morcha.

The CPI (M) fielded 15 candidates, the Congress nine, the BSP seven, CPI two and AIFB and RSP one each in today's constituencies. There were 44 others and 32 independent candidates also in the contest.

For Mamata Banerjee and the BJP, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight because it was the 2007 agitation against land acquisition in the region which catapulted her to the centrestage of politics in the state, paving the way for the Trinamool's victory in the 2011 Assembly polls that ended 34 years of Left Front rule.

In the high stakes poll battle this time, a victory is a must for Banerjee so that she can lead the government and keep together her party, which is faced with exodus.

For Adhikari it is a battle for political survival as a defeat would be a devastating blow and might also put a question mark on his political graph in his new party, the BJP.

A victory would not only establish him as one of the tallest leaders in Bengal but would also push him a few miles ahead of others in the Chief Ministerial race in case the BJP is voted to power.

Covid-19 protocols for the voters including social distancing and thermal screening were maintained at all the polling stations.

The first phase of polling in Assam and West Bengal was held on March 27. The third and final phase of polling for the 126-member Assam Assembly will be held on April 6, while the remaining six phases of polling for the 294-member West Bengal Assembly will be held on April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29.

Polling for the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the 140-member Kerala Assembly and the 30-member Puducherry Assembly will be held in a single phase on April 6.

Counting of votes in all five States will begin on May 2 and most of the results are expected to be out by that evening.

(With inputs from IANS)


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