The 31 constituencies in West Bengal that went to the polls on Monday in the second part of Phase 1 of the Assembly elections have recorded a 79.5% voter turnout till 5 pm, reported Hinduatan Times. Around 70 lakh voters will decide the fate of 163 candidates in the fray, including 21 women, reported PTI. The Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left Front-Congress alliance have fielded candidates for all 31 seats up for grabs. Voting began at 7 am and will go on till 6 pm.
The districts involved on Monday include West Midnapore, where a TMC worker was murdered three days ago. Incidents of sporadic violence marked the beginning of polling on Monday. A Communist Party of India (Marxist) polling agent was attacked allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers in the district, reported PTI. This was after two CPI(M) agents were obstructed from entering polling booths in Jamuria, according to the police. TMC worker Sheikh Shamser has been arrested in connection with the violence, the police added. Two bags carrying bombs were also found near a booth in Jamuria. A crude bomb was also hurled in the Bankura district by unidentified men, but no casualties were reported.
Five-time CPI (M) MLA and Leader of Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra from Narayangarh, senior Congress leader Manas Bhuniya from Sabang, 91-year-old Gyan Singh Sohanpal, the senior-most member of the Assembly, and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh – both from Kharagpur Sadar – are among the major candidates involved.
The TMC has come under severe criticism from opposition parties for the Saradha chit-fund scam and the Narada sting operation, where party leaders were allegedly seen taking bribes. However, the Mamata Banerjee-led party appears confident of winning a second successive term, with its pre-election campaigns focused on highlighting the welfare schemes it has brought in state since it came to power in 2011.
Five more phases of polling will be held in the state till May 5.