Kolkata : In spite of fool proof security arrangements to ensure a peaceful, free and fair 7th phase of Lok Sabha elections in nine constituencies along with by elections in four Assembly constituencies in West Bengal, reports of intimidation to voters and rigging are pouring in from several areas since this morning today.
Though the Election Commission claimed that the voting in nine constituencies of Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Joynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North having a total electorate of over 1.49 crore, and four assembly by elections in Bhatpara, Islampur, Darjeeling and Habibpur are by and large peaceful so far in spite of a few minor incidents here and there, reports coming in from far flung areas, however, speak otherwise claiming several incidents of booth jamming and rigging and even violence.
In one of the incidents, at least two people including a news cameraman, sustained head injuries after they were hit by brickbats by some miscreants near a booth at Shyambazar area under Kolkata North constituency where BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha is fighting as a candidate.
Reports of minor incidents of violence are also coming from Mathurapur, Ashoknagar, Dum Dum, Dhola and Baruipur areas under different constituencies where voters were also allegedly being prevented from coming near the polling centres to cast their ballots in hassle free manners allegedly by the ruling party goons.
‘We have already lodged complaints to the EC for immediate steps but there was no action so far’, said one local BJP leader.
There are also some reports where opposition polling agents were not allowed to sit or perform their duties inside polling booths with the Presiding Officers remaining a muke spectator in most of the cases.
But apart from these few incidents the overall situation was buy and large peaceful as long queues of voters have been formed since early morning today in front of most of the 17,040 booths, set up across nine constituencies.
Though in most areas voting is being conducted peacefully and in orderly manner, the correspondents of Hindusthan Samachar after touring several areas today have also found that in most cases voters have been waiting for hours under a burning sun for their turn to come as there in no proper arrangement of shade or drinking water for the voters. In some cases the voting began later because of mal functioning of EVMs.
Meanwhile, according to sources at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab in spite of unbearable heat and humidity about 27 per cent votes were polled across all nine constituencies till 11 A.M. with the highest percentage of about 28.9 per cent votes being polled in South Kolkata and lowest about 22.2 per cent in Mathurapur so far.
A total of over 1.49 crore electorate will seal the fate of about 100 candidates of different parties in the last and 7th phase of elections today.
Unlike any previous occasion a total of 710 companies of Central Para Military forces along with 550 companies of Quick Response Team have been be deployed in all the nine constituencies today to instill confidence among the voters.
The forces have also conducted route marches in several areas as part of their Area Domination Programme, sources at the CEO’s office here informed Hindusthan Samachar.
Among the notable candidates whose fate would be decided today are Professor Saugata Roy, Mala Roy, Avishek Banerjee, Sudip Bandopadhyay, Film star Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan – all of Trinamool Congress, Samik Bhattacharya, Rahul Sinha, Anupam Hazra, Chandra Kumar Bose, Nilanjan Roy of BJP and Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Nadini Mukherjee and Kanika Ghosh of CPI-M.
It may be recalled that showing its full constitutional authority at the fag end of the seven phase of Lok Sabha elections the Election Commission took strong steps against state Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya, former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajive Kumar and two senior police officials and removed them from their posts on charge of openly siding with the ruling party in violation of EC rules.
The sudden removal of both the senior police officials barely 48 hours before the last phase of poll has reportedly sent shock waves among the ruling party leaders.