78.3% voting in 3rd phase of WB Assembly polls



78.3% voting in 3rd phase of WB Assembly polls Kolkata: A total 78.3 per cent votes were cast during peaceful polling on Wednesday in the crucial third phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections in 75 Assembly constituencies in three districts.

The fate of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, Housing Minister Goutam Deb, Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu and nine other ministers was sealed in EVMs.

Leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, former FICCI Secretary General Amit Mitra and cinestar Debashree Roy were the other prominent candidates who contested in this phase.

With three phases, election was completed in 179 of the 294 Assembly seats.

The chief minister cast his vote at the Patha Bhavan School in Ballygunge, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at the Mitra Institution in Bhowanipore and Union Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee at the Kamala Girl's High School in Ballygunge.

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee exercised his franchise at the Tirthabati Institution in south Kolkata, CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat at Taratola and former India captain Sourav Ganguly at Behala.

The polling percentage might rise as reports from remote areas of South and North 24 Parganas districts were still awaited, the state's chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta told reporters here.

He said polling was 82.6 per cent in South 24 Parganas district, 80 per cent in North 24 Parganas districts, while Kolkata (south) registered 63.5 per cent and Kolkata (north) 61.6 per cent.

Except for some stray incidents, polling was, by and large peaceful, he said.

The CEO said that three presiding officers and five polling officers were replaced in north Kolkata for flouting EC rules.

Additional CEO N K Sahana said that 16 presiding officers were replaced following complaints from Bagda, Bongaon, Gaighata and Bidhannagar in North 24-Parganas district.

Malfunctioning of EVMs was reported from a few places which were promptly replaced, the CEO said. Gupta said that police recovered four live crude bombs from a mango orchard at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district.

The Trinamool Congress chief alleged that there were attempts at rigging by the CPI-M in some booths in the Jadavpur Assembly constituency of the chief minister and said the Election Commission had been informed.

She alleged that central para-military forces were rendered idle and the police asked to do their duty, slowing the polling process 'at the instruction of the chief minister'.

Reports from North 24 Parganas, quoting the police, said that a CPI(M) office at Bijpur under North 24-Parganas district was ransacked by miscreants and a CPI(M) polling agent injured outside a booth there. Altogether 50 arrests were made.

One person was arrested from Panihati for false voting and another from Jagaddal for causing disturbance, the reports said.

Altogether 610 companies of central forces were deployed in the three districts where polling was held.

The percentage of the first phase of polling in 54 seats on April 18 was 83.75 and in the second on April 23 in 56 seats 83 per cent.

PTI