18.1 Percent Cast Votes Till 9 am In West Bengal

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Alipurduar: Around 18.12 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the first couple of hours of polling in two parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal on Thursday, an election official said.

Polling began at 7 am in Cooch Behar and Alipurduar, where a total of 34,51,883 electorate will decide the fate of 18 candidates.

Around 50 per cent of the polling stations in the two Lok Sabha constituencies are under the watch of paramilitary personnel, besides an adequate number of state forces, to ensure a free and fair elections.

However, Trinamool Congress leader and North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh alleged that in several booths, EVMs are malfunctioning.

Ghosh claimed that it could be part of a conspiracy to manipulate votes. “I have never seen such an election process ever in my life. Jut within two hours, there were so many EVMs which have been malfunctioning. It can be a part of a conspiracy. I have been calling the observers and nobody is picking up my calls,” Ghosh told PTI.

The ruling TMC in West Bengal and the BJP are the main contenders in the two north Bengal seats, while the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress are fighting to prove their existence.

Left Party constituent Forward Bloc is contesting from Cooch Behar and RSP in Alipurduar.

Cooch Behar district has the distinction of housing 51 enclaves, which became a part of India in 2015 after the exchange with Bangladesh. The enclaves have 15,000 dwellers.

Alipurduar is a reserved constituency for Scheduled Tribes, as it has a large population of adivasis who migrated to the region during the British era to work in tea gardens.

The TMC has nominated Dasarath Tirkey against John Barla of BJP in the seat. The Congress and the RSP candidates are Mohanlal Basumata and Mili Oraon, respectively.

In Cooch Behar, the TMC nominated Paresh Adhikari against BJP’s Nisith Pramanik. Piya Roy Chowdhury of the Congress and Gobinda Roy of the Forward Bloc are also in the fray.