The Election Commission has ruled out any change in the schedule of the polls.
Over 1 crore voters in West Bengal will decide the political fate of 306 candidates on Thursday, when 43 Assembly constituencies go to polls in the sixth phase, amid a raging second wave of COVID-19.
The Election Commission on Wednesday ruled out any change in the schedule of the polls and told the Trinamool Congress that its suggestion to club the last three of the eight phases is “not feasible”.
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 phase of polling on April 10, an Election Commission official said.
The poll panel has decided to deploy at least 1,071 companies of central forces in the sixth phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said.
Here are the live updates:
57.30% voter turnout till 1 pm in 43 seats where polling is underway for the sixth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections.
CEC seeks report on violence; 37% turnout till 11 am
Stray incidents of violence were on Thursday reported from various parts of Bengal where voting is underway in the sixth phase of assembly elections, but the overall poll situation was largely peaceful with 37.27 per cent turnout recorded till 11 am, an EC official said.
In Uttar Dinajpur’s Chopra area, shots were reportedly fired after clashes broke out between activists of the TMC and the BJP over allegations of heckling by agents of a polling booth. Both the parties denied having used any firearm and blamed the opposition for the violence.
The office of the CEO has sought a report on the incident from the local administration.
Over 17% turnout in first two hours
About 17.19 per cent of voters exercised their franchise tilll 9 am, where polling is underway in 43 seats on Thursday, according to Election Comissiion sources.
Crude bombs explode in North 24 Parganas dt.
Several incidents of crude bombs explosions were reported n Barrackpore industrial belt in North 24 Parganas distriict today.
An unidentified body found from Habra Assembly constituency in North 24 Parganas district where polling in underway today. According to police officials it is not clear whether the death is related to poll-related violence or not.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress councillor Utpal Dasgupta was attacked at Bijpur Assembly segment in North 24 Parganas by unidentified persons.
PM Modi urges voters to exercise their franchise
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged eligible voters in West Bengal to exercise their franchise as the sixth phase of assembly polls got underway in the State.
“The people of West Bengal are voting to elect a new assembly. On the sixth phase today, urging those whose seats are polling to exercise their franchise,” Mr. Modi tweeted.
Amid tight security, polling for 43 constituencies began in sixth phase of assembly elections in West Bengal on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Long queues were seen outside most of the polling boths even before the voting began.
In this phase, elections are being held in 17 seats in the North 24 Parganas district and nine seats in Nadia most of which has a significant presence of the Matuas, who are crucial to the electoral success of any party in the State.
Not feasible to club remaining phases: Poll panel tells Trinamool
The Election Commission has told the Trinamool Congress that its suggestion of clubbing the last three phases of polling in the West Bengal Assembly elections due to the COVID-19 surge was not feasible. The ECs response to a letter sent by Trinamool MP Derek O Brien came on the eve of the sixth phase of polling. The seventh and eighth phases are scheduled for April 26 and April 29.
Polling across crucial geographies
From the narrow stretch of land connecting north and south Bengal, often referred as ‘chicken’s neck’, to the constituencies bordering Bangladesh in Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts, the sixth phase of polling in the State will be held across interesting geographies.
Several Assembly constituencies of Uttar Dinajpur like Chopra, Islampur, Goalpokhar and Chakulia border Bangladesh on one side and Bihar on another. The narrow stretch called chicken’s neck has a strategic importance and is also inhabited by people of all religions and ethnicities.
(With inputs from our Correspondent Shiv Sahay Singh and agencies)