Around 18.12 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise till 9 am Thursday as the first phase of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise began. Cooch Behar and Alipurduar are the two constituencies in West Bengal which are voting in the first phase of the Lok Sabha election. Alipurduar recorded 18.35 per cent voting while Cooch Behar registered 17.80 per cent.
As per Election Commission officials, there were reports of unrest in some areas of Dinhata which comes under Cooch Behar constituency. Clashes broke out between BJP and TMC workers at Rasamanta High School polling centre in Dinhata 2 block. Both the groups blamed each other for thwarting voters. Meanwhile, state police personnel inside the booth pleaded helplessness and locked the booth from inside. However, EC officials said the police and other concerned authorities rushed to the spot immediately and the situation was brought under control.
“In many booths, we heard EVMs had started to malfunction. The Central force is trying to influence voters. I have called up the DM and lodged a verbal complaint”, said Rabindranath Ghosh, North Bengal development minister.
“In all polling stations and booths, the polling is being conducted peacefully. There were complaints of EVM malfunction in some places, which were immediately replaced,” Additional CEO Sanjay Basu told reporters.
In Alipurduar, TMC candidate Dasrarth Tirkey was seen sporting a TMC badge at A polling booth. He took out the badge after some mediapersons pointed it out.
West Bengal is going to vote across seven phases from April 11 to May 19, the highest number of phases along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This is the first time that the Lok Sabha election is being conducted in seven phases across the state.