Voting began on Thursday morning in 43 constituencies across four districts of West Bengal. The sixth phase of polling in the state Assembly elections occurred amid the surge in coronavirus cases. A voter turnout of 79.11% was recorded in this phase, the Election Commission’s data showed.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. At a rally, she said the state “cannot surrender to two goons of Delhi”. Meanwhile, Modi cancelled his four rallies in the state, scheduled for Friday, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. The prime minister said he will chair high-level meetings on India’s coronavirus situation.
The Election Commission denied Trinamool Congress’ request to club the remaining phases of voting, saying that it was not feasible since polls were planned well in advance. However, the poll panel said it will ensure that Covid-related safety rules were followed during the voting.
Security was increased in the state in view of the violence in the previous five phases of the elections. At least 1,071 companies of central forces will be deployed in the state to ensure free and fair voting the Election Commission said.
Here are the day’s updates:
5.55 pm: At least six persons, including a child, were injured after bombs were hurled in North 24 Parganas district’s Titagarh Assembly constituency, reports PTI, citing a police official. A team of police personnel and Central Armed Reserved Forces soldiers were sent to the area following the incident, the officer said.
5.52 pm: West Bengal records 79.08% voter turnout till 5.50 pm, says Election Commission.
4.23 pm: An Election Commission official says that stray incidents of violence have been reported from some parts of the state where voting is underway, but the overall situation is largely peaceful, reports India Today.
Shots were reportedly fired after clashes broke out between the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party activists on an alleged incident of heckling of polling booth agents. Both parties deny using firearms.
The office of the chief election officer seeks reports.
3.30 pm: West Bengal has recorded a voter turnout of 69.92% till now, says the Election Commission.
1.33 pm: At a rally Dakshin Dinajpur district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says people of the state “cannot surrender our Bengal to two goons of Delhi”, reports ANI. Banerjee is referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
1.30 pm: West Bengal has recorded 57.30% voter turnout till now, according to the Election Commission.
10.55 am: The Indo-Tibetan Border Police guards polling booths in Katwa, East Bardhaman district, reports ANI.
10.45 am: Visuals from Banpara during sixth phase of polling.
10.41 am: Voter turnout at 10.30 am recorded at 17.25%, according to Election Commission data.
9.19 am: Officials say 1,071 companies of central forces have been deployed in West Bengal for the sixth phase of elections, reports PTI.
9.13 am: Even as coronavirus cases are surging at an alarming rate, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will attend three poll meetings today, West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has four road shows scheduled and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari will participate in three roadshows in Kolkata, reports NDTV.
9.09 am: Congress leader P Chidambaram urges the voters in West Bengal to hold the government accountable.
“The BJP is solely responsible for the medical catastrophe that has fallen on the country,” he tweets, referring to the coronavirus crisis. “The hopes of the entire nation are in the hands of the voters of W[est] Bengal.”
9.05 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urges eligible voters in West Bengal to exercise their franchise as the sixth phase of Assembly polls is underway.
7.48 am: Bharatiya Janata Party National Vice President Mukul Roy votes in North 24 Parganas.
7.33 am: Over 1 crore voters will decide the fate of 306 candidates in the sixth phase of elections on Thursday, PTI reports.
7.30 am: Voters queue up outside a polling booth in Uttar Dinjanpur district, ANI reports.
7.26 am: Bongaon and Krishnanagar, two strongholds of the Matua community, are among the constituencies that will vote on Thursday, Hindustan Times reports.
Matua community is comprised of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. There are nearly 1.5 crore voters of the Matua community in West Bengal, who wield impact in at least 30 Assembly seats.
7.21 am: Bharatiya Janata Party National Vice President Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress ministers Jyotipriyo Mallick and Chandrima Bhattacharya and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Tanmay Bhattacharya are among the leaders contesting elections in the sixth phase.
7.15 am: Voting for the sixth phase of West Bengal elections begins. West Bengal BJP Vice President Arjun Singh casts his vote in North 24 Parganas.