West Bengal Assembly Elections Highlights: Voting for penultimate phase concludes, over 75% turnout till 5.31 pm
West Bengal Assembly Election 2021 Phase 7 Voting Highlights: BJP candidate from the Rashbehari assembly constituency Lt Gen Subrata Saha's agent was detained on Monday for allegedly molesting a few women voters inside a polling booth in the city's New Alipore area, police said. Rao, however, rubbished the allegations and said no such incident had taken place.
People queue up outside a polling booth in Kolkata on Monday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)
West Bengal Elections 2021 Highlights: Voting for the penultimate phase of Bengal polls ended at 6.30 pm. Polling took place across 34 seats in parts of Paschim Bardhaman, Dakshin Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Malda and south Kolkata during this phase. A voter turnout of 75.06% was recorded till 5.31 pm.
TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, after casting his vote in Kolkata, predicted a 2/3rd majority for the Mamata Banerjee government.
A few incidents of scuffle were reported from the Asansol area, where TMC candidate Saayoni Ghosh claimed that BJP activists tried to jam booths in her constituency. The allegation was dubbed as baseless by BJP candidate Agnimitra Paul, who asserted, “Ghosh is making excuses sensing defeat”. In the Jamuria constituency, Left Front candidate Aishe Ghosh alleged that her party agents were stopped from entering the booth by TMC workers, a charge denied by the ruling party.
BJP candidate from the Rashbehari assembly constituency Lt Gen Subrata Saha’s agent was detained on Monday for allegedly molesting a few women voters inside a polling booth in Kolkata’s New Alipore area, police said. Mohan Rao was detained after several women voters claimed he tried to drag them holding their hands inside Bidya Bharati School, a police officer said. “We have received a complaint in this regard and a probe is underway,” he said. Rao, however, rubbished the allegations and said no such incident had taken place. “TMC activists are trying to create disturbance in the area. This is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the peaceful polling process,” Saha said.
Abhisekh Banerjee predicts 2/3rd majority for Mamata government; BJP candidate Lt Gen Subrata Saha's agent detained for allegedly molesting women; Scuffle reported from parts of Asansol.
West Bengal Chief Minister addresses a virtual rally in Murshidabad on Saturday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)
Voting is being held at 12,068 polling stations on Monday. The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 796 companies of central forces for this phase. The seventh phase of polls will be held at a time when the pandemic has been raging in Bengal and in other parts of the country. On Saturday, the state registered 14,281 new Covid cases and 59 more deaths.
Among the keenly watched contests is the battle for the prestigious Bhabanipur seat, which was vacated by incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as she decided to contest from Nandigram this time. TMC has fielded veteran politician and state power minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay from the constituency as the party hopes to bag the seat for a third consecutive time. Up against him will be popular Bengali actor Rudranil Ghosh, who is contesting on a BJP ticket.
For Chattopadhyay, who had fought assembly elections seven times and won each of the contests, the constituency is his home turf as he is a resident of the area and exercises his franchise there. Ghosh, who has received accolades for his performances in films like ‘Vinci Da’ and ‘Chaplin’, has said a large section of people in Bhabanipur are non-Bengalis and may have not watched his films, but they are aware of his social work in the area. “People in Bhabanipur have become disillusioned with Mamata Banerjee in the last couple of years. She fled to Nandigram sensing imminent defeat here,” Ghosh, who was once an aide of the TMC supremo but fell out with her two years back, told PTI.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, Tollywood actor Saayoni Ghosh in fray today
Another heavyweight candidate is state minister Firhad Hakim who is also seeking re-election for a third consecutive term from the Kolkata Port constituency. Also among those who have been generating considerable interest this time is Lt Gen (retd) Subrata Saha, a surprise pick in many ways, who has been fielded by the BJP from the Rashbehari seat. He had served as the Deputy Chief of Army and has been involved in the Modi government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ defence programme since retirement and serving a second term as a member of the National Security Advisory Board. Saha will be up against the TMC’s Debasish Kumar, who is also a Kolkata Municipal Corporation councillor. The Rashbehari seat has traditionally been a TMC stronghold.
The other battle to watch out for will be the one for the Asansol South seat where Tollywood actor Saayoni Ghosh fielded by TMC will lock horns with fashion designer Agnimitra Paul who is contesting on a BJP ticket. TMC’s Tapas Banerjee had won from the constituency in 2011 and 2016. The seat comes under the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency, which was won by BJP’s Babul Supriyo in 2014 and 2019.
The Jamuria seat in the coal belt of Paschim Bardhaman will also witness an interesting battle as the Left-Congress-ISF alliance has fielded young CPI(M) face and JNU Students’ Union president Aishe Ghosh. The Jamuria seat remains a traditional Left stronghold.
Following the surge in Covid cases, the EC has banned roadshows and vehicle rallies in the state and disallowed any public meeting with more than 500 people. It also stated that Covid safety norms have not been adhered to while campaigning in the state.
The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday dismissed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that the poll body’s special observers were ordering the police to detain her party workers during polling hours.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the EC said the TMC leader’s claim was “baseless, false and misleading” and that “no such instructions have been given by any Observer, Chief Electoral Officer or Officer of the Commission to act against workers” of any party.
The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.