Kolkata: Long queues were seen at various West Bengal booths, as nearly a quarter of the state’s electorate cast their vote Thursday in the first two hours of balloting in six Lok Sabha constituencies.
Enthusiastic voters – young and old, men and women – turned up in large numbers to exercise their democratic right for Jangipur, Murshidabad, Malda North, Malda South, Balurghat and Raiganj seats since polling began at 7 a.m., an official said.
“The average percentage is around 20 to 22” till 9 a.m., assistant chief electoral officer Amitjyoti Bhattacharya said.
Polling was peaceful.
An electorate of 83,311,287, including 4,007,898 female, are eligible to choose their representatives from among 78 candidates in 9,755 polling stations spread over four districts – Muslim majority Malda and Murshidabad, besides North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur.
The four main rivals Trinamool Congress, Left Front, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are competing in all the seats. Among the LF partners, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is in action in five and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) in one.
Among the star candidates in this phase are two union Ministers Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury (Malda South) and Deepa Dasmunsi (Raiganj), as also President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee (Jangipur) – all nominated by the Congress.
The ruling Trinamool has given the tickets to popular Bengali band singer Soumitra Roy (Malda North) and theatre personality Arpita Ghosh (Balurghat), while Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) central committee member Md. Salim is in fray from Raiganj, where the BJP candidate is famed actor Nimu Bhaumik.
The results of this phase are crucial for the Congress, which had bagged five of the six seats in 2009 from the constituencies that have gone to the hustings Thursday.
The other seat – Balurghat – had gone to RSP five years back.
West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, of which four voted April 17.
The next three phases of polling will be held April 30 (nine seats), May 7 (six seats) and May 12 (17 constituencies).