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Bengal polls: 81% polling in fifth phase

Bengal polls: 81% polling in fifth phase

Kolkata: Around 81% turnout was recorded in the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections, which ended peacefully in four Maoist-affected districts on Saturday.

Election office sources said there was 81% polling in the seats spread over West Midnapur, Bankura, Purulia and parts of Burdwan district at 5:00 pm when polling ended.

Polling was 83% in West Midnapore, 83.5% in Bankura, 80% in Burdwan and 78% in Purulia, the sources said.

The fate of health minister and CPI (M) stalwart Suryakanta Mishra and WBPCC president Manas Bhunia, who were among the 193 candidates were sealed in EVMs.

Six persons were arrested from Raghunathpur area of Bankura district and four from Pingla and Chandrakona town in West Midnapore district, official sources said.

Election observers and the police rushed to Keshpur in the same district after the Trinamool Congress alleged that CPI (M) supporters were jamming booths and preventing genuine voters from casting their votes.

Two journalists, belonging to PTI and a Bengali daily besides a photographer were beaten up allegedly by CPI (M) supporters after they spoke to the presiding officer Sourav Banerjee at Dayalpur in Galsi assembly constituency in Burdwan district, an FIR lodged by them said.

A local CPI (M) leader, Sk Zulfikar also allegedly abused them in the presence of the presiding officer.

District magistrate-cum-returning officer, Omkar Singh Meena said he had asked the superintendent of police to arrest the culprits.

The Left Front’s stake is high in these seats because in 2009 during its rout at the hands of the Trinamool Congress in south Bengal in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the four districts, known as the red fort, rebuffed the winds of change blowing across West Bengal.

Of the 38 seats, 12 are in West Midnapur, five in Purulia, nine in Bankura and 12 in Burdwan district.

The Left Front is contesting all the 38 seats while Trinamool Congress has fielded candidates in 33 and alliance partner Congress in five.

The BJP has fielded candidates in all the seats.

Tight security arrangements were made with deployment of around 600 companies of central paramilitary forces besides state forces, the sources said.

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