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Bengal bye-election: Bhabanipur turnout continues to remain low, stands at 21.73% till 11 am

While about 17.51 per cent polling was recorded at Jangipur Assembly constituency, Samserganj constituency in Murshidabad district saw a turnout of 16.32 per cent.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata |
Updated: September 30, 2021 12:19:26 pm
Voters queue up outside a polling booth in Bhabanipur on Thursday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

Voter turnout continued to be on the lower side in Bhabanipur with only 21.73 per cent people coming out to exercise their franchise till 11 am on Thursday. The figure stood at 7.57  per cent at 9 am.

While the turnout in Samserganj constituency was 40.23 per cent, that in Jangipur was 36.11 per cent.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is contesting the Assembly bypoll from Bhabanipur to retain her Chief Minister’s seat. She is pitted against BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and CPM’s Sreejib Biswas.

Elections to Jangipur and Samserganj constituencies were countermanded during the state Assembly polls earlier this year owing to the deaths of the candidates there.

No major incident of electoral malpractice or violence have been reported from any of these three seats.

BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal alleged that Section 144 of CrPC has been violated and that the police were taking no action about it. The party is likely to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission in this regard.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh, too, called for free and fair voting. “The EC must ensure that every voter casts their votes freely and without fear. We want to see peaceful polling,” Ghosh, who was heckled on the last day of campaigning (Monday) by a section of TMC workers and supporters, said.

Reacting to Tibrewal’s statements, senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said the BJP were making baseless allegations. “There has been no violation of Section anywhere in the state. The BJP knows very well that their candidate will lose the election and is hence making such allegations. Now, they will say that their booth agents were prevented from entering polling stations. However, in reality, they don’t even have polling agents. So far, people have exercised their franchise peacefully in Bhabanipur,” Hakim added.

Meanwhile, in Samserganj, TMC candidate Amirul Islam was allegedly seen influencing voters outside a polling booth. “All votes should be cast in favour of Lakshmir Bhandar (a popular social welfare scheme of the Mamata Banerjee government),” the TMC candidate said. The BJP has lodged a complaint with the EC against him.

Later in the day, Firhad Hakim was seen having a friendly chat with CPM polling agents in Chetla area over a cup of tea. The state minister claimed that it was political courtesy. “Polling has been peaceful. In Bhabanipur, we are all friends here and there is no animosity among us. This is a political courtesy,” Hakim added.

Meanwhile, the BJP has lodged a complaint against Hakim for trying to influence the voters. The party has demanded that Hakim should be kept under a watch in a police station outside Bhabanipur constituency. The party also lodged a complaint against another TMC leader and state minister Subrata Mukherjee.

“Since morning, Minister Firhad Hakim has been seen all over 159AC influencing voters. Now, Minister Subrata Mukerjee is seen all over the constituency influencing voters. This is in gross violation of the provisions of the Rules. These 2 Ministers should be immediately detained in a PS outside the area of this constituency till atleast the polling process is over,” the party said in a statement.

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