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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 Highlights: Last phase of polls ends, over 76% voter turnout recorded till 5 pm

Firecrackers were set off outside Mahajati Sadan in central Kolkata on Thursday morning, which were initially alleged to be crude bombs, an EC official said. BJP candidate from Jorasanko, Meena Devi Purohit, had earlier alleged that a bomb was hurled at her vehicle.

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: May 1, 2021 8:57:11 am
Voters queue up outside a polling booth in Kolkata on Thursday. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

West Bengal Elections 2021 Highlights: Voting in the last phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal has now ended. Stray incidents of violence were reported on Thursday from several areas but the overall polling process has been peaceful with 76.07% voter turnout recorded till 5 pm.

Firecrackers were set off outside Mahajati Sadan in central Kolkata on Thursday morning, which were initially alleged to be crude bombs, an EC official said. The incident, which happened on Central Avenue in the heart of the city soon after polling began in the area, triggered panic among the people. “Preliminary probe revealed that banned firecrackers were set off and not bombs,” the official at the Chief Electoral Officer’s office said, PTI reported.

Soon after the incident, BJP’s Jorasanko candidate Meena Devi Purohit alleged that crude bombs were hurled at her vehicle while she was touring different polling booths. “They tried to kill me. It is a ploy to scare the voters,” Purohit alleged. No one was injured in the incident.

Voting for the last phase of the Assembly polls in West Bengal started at 7 am amid a spike in Covid cases in the state. A total of 35 constituencies spread across districts of Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, and north Kolkata will decide the political fate of 285 candidates.

Live Blog

Voting for the last phase ends; Stray incidents of violence reported from several areas; 76.07% voter turnout recorded till 5 pm. Read highlights below

21:29 (IST)29 Apr 2021
West Bengal exit poll predictions
Here are the exit polls predictions for the West Bengal Assembly. The majority mark in the 294-member Assembly is 148.

ETG Research

TMC-164-176

BJP-105-115

Congress-Left alliance-10-15

P-MARQ

TMC-152-172

BJP-112-132

Congress-Left alliance-10-20

ABP C-Voter

TMC: 152-164 

BJP: 109-121 

Congress-Left alliance : 14-25

CNN News18

TMC-162

BJP-115

Congress-Left alliance-15

Republic TV-CNX

TMC-128-138

BJP-138-148

Congress-Left alliance-11-21

19:07 (IST)29 Apr 2021
ABP C-Voter exit poll predicts TMC win in Bengal

Vote percentage on 292 seats as per ABP C-Voter survey

TMC: 42.1% votes ; 152-64 seats
BJP: 39% votes ; 109-21 seats
Congress+ : 15.4% votes ; 14-25 seats

19:01 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Clashes erupt in Bengal's Birbhum district, BJP candidate comes under attack

Clashes broke out on Thursday between members of two political parties in Birbhum district's Ilambazar area amid the voting exercise for the last phase of Bengal elections, with BJP's Bolpur candidate Anirban Ganguly having come under attack during the melee, an official said.

Activists of the rival political outfits hit each other with brickbats and bamboo sticks around 2.30 pm, the election official said, adding that at least two persons were injured in the clash.

Ganguly claimed that "TMC-backed goons" attacked him as he was touring the polling booths in Bolpur, and his vehicle suffered damage.

"There was no problem anywhere... Polling process was peaceful, until the TMC goons arrived and threatened people. They attacked and damaged the rear windshield of my vehicle. The TMC is resorting to such attacks as the party is scared of losing the elections," Ganguly said.

TMC candidate for the constituency and state minister Chandranath Sinha rubbished Ganguly's allegations and said villagers drove him away as the BJP candidate was trying to influence the voters. (PTI)

18:23 (IST)29 Apr 2021
TMC MP comes to vote in a PPE suit in Kolkata

TMC MP Dr. Santanu Sen, who had tested positive for Covid-19, cast his vote in a PPE suit at Belgachia in North Kolkata. (ANI)

17:40 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Over 76% vote turnout recorded till 5 pm

76.07% voter turnout recorded till 5 pm in the last phase of Bengal poll, says EC. (ANI)

17:01 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Firecrackers set off outside Mahajati Sadan, not bombs: EC official

Firecrackers were set off outside Mahajati Sadan in central Kolkata on Thursday morning, which were initially alleged to be crude bombs, an official said.

The incident, which happened on Central Avenue in the heart of the city soon after polling began in the area, triggered panic among the people."Preliminary probe revealed that banned firecrackers were set off and not bombs," the official at the Chief Electoral Officer's office said.Those behind the incident are being identified and a hunt is on to nab them, he said.

Soon after the incident, BJP's Jorasanko candidate Meena Devi Purohit alleged that crude bombs were hurled at her vehicle while she was touring different polling booths.

15:56 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Over 68% voter turnout recorded till 3.37 pm: EC

ECI states that 68.46% voter turnout has been recorded till 3.37 pm during the last phase of polls. (ANI)

15:15 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury casts his vote

Congress MP and the party's state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury casts his vote in Murshidabad.

14:25 (IST)29 Apr 2021
TMC supporters 'gherao' car of BJP candidate in Kolkata

Trinamool Congress supporters "gheraoed" the car of BJP candidate Kalyan Chaubey in Maniktala, North Kolkata, on Thursday. "Our polling agent was sitting inside a booth when they noticed that a 50-year-old woman came to vote instead of a 31-year-old woman. When the agent objected, she was scolded. This is hooliganism by the TMC," he added. (ANI)

14:04 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Trinamool writes to EC over 'inadequacies' in directions over counting of votes

Trinamool Congress writes to Election Commission of India regarding 'inadequacies' in its direction for counting of votes on May 2; says no provision has been made for submission of negative RT-PCR test by polling officers and CAPF personnel

13:08 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Submitted memorandum over counting process to EC: TMC MP Saugata Roy

We've submitted a memorandum regarding the counting process because they've (Election Commission) introduced that all counting agents and candidates should be tested for Covid-19 but no such instructions are there for polling agents or central forces. That is what we wanted to point out: TMC MP Saugata Roy. (ANI)

13:05 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Stray incidents of violence reported from across Bengal

A clash between BJP and TMC workers was reported from the Rajballavpara area in Beliaghata. Supporters of the two parties allegedly attacked each other with hockey sticks. They allegedly pelted stone at each other as well. Few have reportedly been injured. Both sides accused each other of obstructing the voting process. BJP candidate Kashinath Biswas went to the spot and it is then that the matter escalated. TMC supporters allegedly started throwing stones ar him. BJP supporters also gheraoed the police over the incident.

In Birbhum's Nanoor area BJP candidate Tarakeswar Saha's vehicle was allegedly attacked.

In another incident, Biswajit Mondal, brother of BJP candidate Shyamapada Mondal, was attacked in Binnagari village in Mayureshwar. TMC members, however, countered that it were BJP supporters who attacked them. (Inputs from Sweety Kumari)


Central forces patrol on Central Avenue in Kolkata on Thursday after a bomb was hurled in the area. (Express Photo: Shashi Ghosh)
12:23 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Stray violence, attack on candidates mark last phase of Bengal polls, 37.80% turnout till 11 am

Stray incidents of violence were reported on Thursday from several areas where voting is underway for the eighth and last phase of assembly elections in Bengal, but the overall polling process has been peaceful with 37.80 per cent turnout till 11 am, EC officials said. Voting is being held in 11,860 polling stations of 35 constituencies — 11 each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in north Kolkata.

Earlier in the day, one person was killed and two others injured as a car hit them in Murshidabad district, triggering tension in the area, a police officer said. The CPI(M) alleged that its member Kader Mondal (42) was killed, and two others — Asim Al Mamoon (43) and Lal Chand Mondal (42) — sustained injuries after TMC candidate Jafikul Islam ran his car over them. Islam, the TMC's Domkal seat candidate, rubbished the allegation, claiming that he was nowhere near the site of the incident. (PTI)

11:19 (IST)29 Apr 2021
'Excellent work being done by Election Commission and CAPF': Governor Jagdish Mukhi after casting vote

West Bengal Governor Jagdish Mukhi and his wife Sudesh Dhankhar cast their vote at a polling booth in Chowringhee, Kolkata, on Thursday. “Election is the greatest festival in democracy and we both have voted. Covid protocols are being followed 100%. I'm very happy with the arrangements. Excellent work being done by the EC and CAPF. Democracy is powered only by your votes. Anyone who doesn't vote loses the right to grievance,” the Governor said. (ANI)

10:38 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Visuals from polling booths from across Bengal

People queue up at polling booths across the state as Bengal votes in the last phase of the Assembly elections. (Express Photos by Partha Paul and Shashi Ghosh)

09:45 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Turnout of 16.04% recorded till 9:30 am

Voter turnout of 16.04% recorded till 9:31am in the final phase of the polling in West Bengal, according to EC's voter turnout app. (ANI)

09:21 (IST)29 Apr 2021
‘Jungle raj’ in Bengal, says BJP candidate after casting vote

‘Jungle raj’ in Bengal, says BJP candidate after casting vote BJP candidate from Malda, Gopal Chandra Saha, after casting his vote on Thursday, said, “There was a public rally on April 18 in Sahapur where I was shot & taken to hospital. It was done by either TMC or Congress goons. There is 'jungle raj' here.” (ANI)

09:16 (IST)29 Apr 2021
Bomb hurled near polling booth in Kolkata

A bomb was hurled near the Mahajati Sadan Auditorium in north Kolkata. The Election Commission has sought details of the incident. (ANI)

08:12 (IST)29 Apr 2021
EVM 'glitch' delays polling at Birbhum booth

Voting began with a half an hour delay, at 7:30am, due to a "glitch" in the Electronic Voting Machine, at polling booth number 188 in Birbhum, in the eighth and final phase of polling in West Bengal. (ANI)

07:38 (IST)29 Apr 2021
BJP leader and actor Mithun Chakraborty casts vote

BJP leader and actor Mithun Chakraborty cast his vote for the final phase of West Bengal polls, at a polling station in Kashipur-Belgachia, north Kolkata. “I had never voted so peacefully ever before. I must congratulate all the security personnel,” he said.

Polling officials carry ballot boxes at Berhampore in Murshidabad district. (PTI)

The last phase of the election is being held amid an unprecedented Covid spike. The state logged 17,207 fresh cases on Wednesday, the highest-single day spike recorded so far, pushing the tally to 7,93,552, a bulletin issued by the health department said. The death toll climbed to 11,159 with 77 more fatalities which is also the maximum count during a day, it said.

Over 84 lakh electors will cast their votes at 11,860 polling stations during this phase. The focus will be on five seats in north Kolkata — Beleghata, Jorsanko, Shyampukur, Maniktala and Kashipur-Belgachia — where a neck-and-neck contest is expected between TMC and BJP.

Three-cornered fights expected in Malda and Murshidabad

Three-cornered contests are expected in many of the 17 constituencies in Malda and Murshidabad districts where the Left-Congress-ISF combine has a stronghold apart from the TMC and the BJP.

Security measures have been heightened in view of the violence in the previous phases, particularly the death of five people in Cooch Behar in the fourth round of polling on April 10. The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 641 companies of central forces, including 224 in Birbhum district.

Birbhum will be in focus because the district’s TMC president has been placed under surveillance by the Election Commission till 7 am on Friday. The decision was taken after the chief electoral officer in the state received "several complaints against him", an EC official was quoted as saying by PTI.

The TMC leader was placed under similar surveillance during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2016 assembly polls.

The polls on Thursday will bring the curtains down the marathon eight-phase election in West Bengal. The seventh phase of polling had recorded the lowest voter turnout (75.06 per cent). The Covid impact on voters was more visible in South Kolkata, which recorded 59.91 per cent voting.

Trinamool Congress Wednesday hit out at the BJP-led government at the Centre and EC saying they have "the blood of Covid-19 patients on their hands" as they refused to consider the serious threat of coronavirus and contributed to the "super spread" of the pandemic in West Bengal during the month of April.

The Madras High Court has said that the Election Commission is “the only institution responsible for the situation that we are in today” and murder charges should probably be imposed on the poll watchdog.

The EC has banned victory rallies on May 2 and made it mandatory for all contesting candidates and their polling agents to either test negative for Covid-19 or show proof of having received both doses of vaccines to enter the counting centres.

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