Kolkata: Brisk polling was recorded in all the four Assembly constituencies in West Bengal with Gosaba in South 24 Parganas registering the highest polling percentage of 52.1 per cent.
Khardha recorded the lowest of only 36.7 per cent.
In the first two hours, Gosaba recorded the lowest polling percentage of only 10.3 per cent but in the next four hours, the South 24 Parganas constituency surged ahead of the other three registering a 52.1 per cent turnout. Technically, Gosaba recorded nearly 42 per cent in the last four hours.
On the other hand, Khardha in North 24 Parganas recorded the lowest polling percentage of only 36.7 per cent in the last six hours. Khardha had recorded a polling percentage of 11.4 per cent in the first two hours but in the next four hours, it could go up to only 25.3 per cent.
According to Election Commission officials, the polling percentage of Khardha went down after Trinamool Congress candidate and former minister Sovon Deb Chattopadhyay alleged that the central forces were not allowing the voters inside polling booths citing some “weird” reasons.
“The agents are being told that if they wear a badge then they will not be allowed inside the booths. This is my eighth election and I know the rules better than the forces. If the badge is in my name with the party’s symbol, then they cannot be stopped,” Chattopadhyay said.
“Voters with single dose of vaccination are also not being disallowed. This is weird. How can they dictate terms like this? Their only job is to see whether there is any problem outside the booth. The technical specifications will be handled by the presiding officer. I have lodged a complaint with the Election Commission in this regard,” Chattopadhyay added.
According to Commission officials, they looked into the issue but did not find anything substantial. “Polling is continuing peacefully in the constituency at present,” the officials said.
Dinhata in Cooch Behar recorded a 47.8 per cent voter turnout, while Santipur in Nadia recorded 48.2 per cent.
BJP candidate in Santipur Niranjan Biswas alleged that the voters are not being allowed to come out of their houses to exercise their franchise. “Some of our supporters are being threatened so that they don’t go to the polling station. The Trinamool Congress goons are forcing them to stay indoors. I have lodged a complaint with the Election Commission,” Biswas said.
The Election Commission has made extensive arrangements in the four constituencies with 92 units of central police forces deployed.
The maximum number of central forces has been deployed at Dinhata that shares the border with Bangladesh. As many as 27 companies of central force have been deployed there with 22 at Shantipur, 20 at Khardha and 23 at Gosaba.
Eight companies of the central forces would be retained after the by-polls till the counting that is scheduled to be held on November 2.
There are 177 micro-observers and webcasting will be carried out in 760 polling stations.
According to the data provided by the EC, the total number of voters, including the service voters in these constituencies are 10,16,766 with 18 candidates contesting. There are 1,439 polling stations with the highest of 417 located in Dinhata.
Among the constituencies — Dinhata in Cooch Behar district has the highest 2,98,912 voters, followed by Ranaghat in Nadia with 2,55,334, Khardha in North 24 Parganas with 2,32,393 while Gosaba (SC) in South 24 Parganas has 2,30,127 voters.
Female voters will play a crucial role in the elections in all the four constituencies with Gosaba having more female voters in comparison to their male counterparts. There are 1,11,874 female voters in Gosaba against 1,18,247 males.
The total number of male voters in the four constituencies are 5,20,845, while female voters are 4,95,904. There are 17 third genders but no overseas voters in the four constituencies.