KOLKATA: Polling is underway in by-elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in West Bengal. The state is seeing bypolls in the Uluberia Lok Sabha and Naopara Assembly constituencies.
Nearly 30-32 per cent votes were cast in the first four hours in bypolls to the Uluberia Lok Sabha and Noapara assembly seats in West Bengal on Monday, a poll panel official said.
The opposition Left Front, however, accused the state's ruling Trinamool Congress of capturing over 100 polling booths in Noapara. The CPI-M has complained to the Election Commission that Trinamool-backed miscreants threw out its polling agents and captured 115 polling booths. But the Trinamool "rubbished" the allegations.
"Till 11 a.m., 30-32 per cent voters have exercised their choice," the Election Commission official said.
Both the seats are witnessing a direct contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP, even as the CPI(M) is trying hard to hold its ground in its erstwhile bastions.
The results of the byelections will be announced on February 1.
The elections were necessitated following the deaths of Sultan Ahmed, the sitting TMC MP from Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency in Howrah district, and Madhusudan Ghose, Congress MLA from Noapara assembly seat in North 24 Parganas district.
Nine candidates are in the fray for the Uluberia seat. The TMC, which had been in power in the Uluberia seat since 2009, has fielded Sultan Ahmed's wife Sajda this time. The CPI(M)-led Left Front had nominated Sabiruddin Molla whereas the Congress has fielded S K Madassar Hossain Warsi.
The BJP is the only party to field Hindu candidate Anupam Mallik from the seat. Five other independents are also in the fray from the Lok Sabha constituency making the number of candidates nine.
In Noapara, the TMC has fielded Sunil Singh, the CPI(M) Gargi Chatterjee. Goutam Bose of the Congress and Sandip Banerjee of the BJP are the other contestants from the seat.
Uluberia is one of the Lok Sabha seats in the state with nearly 40 per cent Muslim population. The RSS and the BJP made inroads into the constituency following a communal flare-up at Dhulagarh, around 16km from Uluberia, in 2016.
According to the Election Commission, 35 companies of central police forces have been deployed to ensure free and fair elections in both the seats.
The TMC had secured 48 per cent votes in Uluberia seat in 2014 Lok Sabha election, whereas the CPI(M) and the Congress had bagged 31 per cent and 5.71 per cent votes respectively. The BJP had bagged 11.5 per cent votes.
In the Noapara assembly segment, in 2016, the Congress had won the election as an alliance partner of CPI(M)-led Left Front, securing 79,548 votes. The TMC had bagged 78,453 votes while the BJP managed to get 23,579 votes.
(With inputs from agencies)