Kolkata, April 4 : Braving the sweltering heat, over 75 percent of the 40 lakh electorate turned out to vote on Monday in the first phase of the assembly polls in 18 constituencies in the Maoist-affected western districts of West Bengal.
While a presiding officer in a booth in Purulia was changed following an allegation of trying to influence voters, a section of voters in Piyalsole village under Manbazar constituency in Purulia boycotted voting.
Complaining of lack of development in the area, the villagers said the decision to boycott the polls was taken in advance.
“From hospital to school to even the market, everything is in Manbazar. The road here is virtually non-existent which makes commuting to Manbazar difficult,” said one of the villagers, adding that most of them have to walk several kilometres to fetch drinking water.
Among major candidates in the fray are Minister Sukumar Hansda of the Trinamool Congress from Jhargram and the CPI-M’s Pulin Bihari Baske contesting from Gopiballavpur.
The Congress and the Left Front accused Trinamool activists of attempting to influence and intimidate voters in many booths across the three districts, a charge denied by the ruling party.
Besides helicopters carrying out sorties, an air ambulance and quick response teams are on standby.
There are 4,945 polling stations, out of which 1,962 have been classified as critical where special security measures have been taken.
Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) has been made available in 562 polling stations.
Under VVPAT, a printer-like apparatus is linked to the EVM. When a vote is cast, a receipt is generated showing the serial number, name and symbol of the candidate. It confirms the vote and the voter can verify the details.