Balloting begins in two West Bengal seats

Voting for the Chowringhee and Basirhat (South) Assembly constituencies in West Bengal began at 7 am on Saturday.

Kolkata: Polling was peaceful Saturday in West Bengal's two assembly constituencies.

"9.07 percent polling was reported from Chowringhee and 20.5 percent from Basirhat (South) till 9 am," an Election Commission official told IANS.

There are no reports of untoward incidents.

Chowringhee in Kolkata has gone to the hustings prematurely following the resignation of Trinamool Congress legislator Sikha Mitra, who won the election in 2011 but has now quit the party. In the assembly polls three years back, Trinamool had then fought jointly with the Congress.

The 200,256 electors spread across 222 polling stations have to choose from nine candidates - Trinamool's Nayna Bandyopadhyay, BJP's Ritesh Tiwari, Congress' Santosh K. Pathak, CPI-M's Faiyaz Ahmad Khan and five independents.

The death of CPI-M legislator Narayan Mukherjee had necessitated polling in the Basirhat (South) constituency, which was newly carved out in 2011. As many as 235,843 people are eligible to vote in 286 polling stations.

The five-cornered contest has seen CPI-M's Mrinal Chakraborty pitted against former Indian soccer captain and Trinamool contestant Dipendu Biswas, Congress' Asit Majumdar and the BJP's Samik Bhattacharya. There is also a SUCI-C candidate.

The elections are being held in the lengthening shadow of the Saradha chit fund scam probe, where a Trinamool MP and another leader of the party is behind bars, while some other MPs and leaders of the party have faced grilling from Central Bureau of Investigation and other central agencies.

The BJP made infiltration from across the Bangladesh border a major issue in Basirhat and fielded its top leaders including national president Amit Shah in the campaign. The CPI-M and Congress have relied on door-to-door campaign and small meetings.

Trinamool deployed a host of ministers and top leaders, as also several Bengali films stars to woo the voters. However, its supremo and state chief minister Mamata Banerjee has stayed away from the canvassing.

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