A paramilitary personnel assists an elderly woman while a volunteer checks her body temperature before entering a polling station to cast her ballot during Phase 1 of West Bengal legislative election in Purulia district on March 27, 2021.
A paramilitary personnel assists an elderly woman while a volunteer checks her body temperature before entering a polling station to cast her ballot during Phase 1 of West Bengal legislative election in Purulia district on March 27, 2021.
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP

Kolkata: Amidst sporadic incidents of violence, the first phase of polling in West Bengal saw a large turnout of people.

30 Assembly constituencies that went for polling on Saturday were largely peaceful with over 80 percent turnout recorded till 6 pm, an official said.

East Midnapore recorded the highest turnout at 82.51 percent, followed by Jhargram at 80.56 percent, West Midnapore at 80.12 percent, Bankura at 79.90 percent, and Purulia at 77.07 percent.

Earlier this day, however, the spirit of the vote was marred by sporadic incidents of violence which included vandalism on BJP leader Soumendu Adhikari’s car at his home constituency Contai and road blockade by the BJP cadres at Egra at East Midnapore, after their polling agent was denied entry to the polling booth by the alleged TMC goons.

“Fearing defeat the TMC is unleashing violence and this clearly proves that this the last resort of the ruling TMC. I was passing through Contai the TMC supported hurled bricks at my car and smashed its window panes,” Soumendu was heard saying after his car was attacked. His driver had sustained minor injuries.

At Contai (South) and East Midnapore, the voters agitated in front of the polling booth as according to them the EVM malfunctioned.

“There is a problem in the EVM machines. Despite casting the vote in favor of TMC the vote is getting registered for BJP,” complained a local voter of East Midnapore.

More central forces were sent to the sensitive areas and the after a gap, the EVM machines were also replaced.

In the Dantan constituency, four people were seriously injured after the BJP and the TMC clashed against each other over the alleged issue of booth capturing.

In Keshiary the TMC supports cried foul against the BJP for threatening them to stay indoors and have allegedly warned them that if step out to cast their votes they will have to face dire consequences.

However, according to central force personnel despite giving security the TMC supporters didn’t leave their house to vote.

At Salboni of West Midnapore CPI (M) candidate Susanta Ghosh was heckled, and stones were hurled at his car, allegedly by TMC supporters. However, the security personnel had escorted him to the safe zone.

Notably, like her previous claims, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during her public rally on Saturday once again claimed that the BJP has manipulated EVMs and used central forces to intimidate the voters.

Despite all odds and sweltering heat, long queues especially of women were seen outside every polling booth.

According to an election official due to the sweltering heat, the voters’ turnout gradually increased after the sunset as till 3 pm the total turnout was recorded at 50. 1 percent that gradually increased to over 80 percent till 5 pm.

West Bengal BJP observer Kailash Vijaywargiya was heard saying that the first phase of eight phase poll in West Bengal was peaceful.

“The first phase was peaceful. This was possible due to the large deployment of central forces. If we can identify the probable culprits who can create tension during polls and can restrict them then from the second phase onwards it will be completely peaceful,” stated Vijaywargiya.

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