Final Phase of Voting In West Bengal Ends

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Kolkata: As many as 19 Assembly seats in Cooch Behar district and 16 in Purba Medinipur will go to the polls on Thursday.

There are 170 candidates, 18 of them women, in the fray.

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Polling will take place in 2,476 booths in Cooch Behar and 4,298 booths in Purba Medinipur. The electorate numbers 58.04 lakh.

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Vulnerable hamlets

“The Election Commission has identified 157 vulnerable hamlets and 257 vulnerable voters in Cooch Behar. In Purba Medinipur, there are 557 vulnerable hamlets and 1,428 vulnerable voters,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar said.

All eyes will be on Cooch Behar as 9,776 voters, who were residents of erstwhile enclaves of divided nationalitues, will vote for the first time in 38 booths across five constituencies in the district.

The Nandigram constituency will be of particular interest as it was the focal point of a violent anti-land acquisition movement led by the Trinamool Congress that played a key role in ending the 34-year Left Front rule in the State.

The Trinamool Congress has fielded Suvendu Adhikari, Tamluk MP, who spearheaded the agitation. He is pitted against the Congress-supported Communist Party of India candidate, Abdul Kabir Sheikh.

Two officials die

Two bomb disposal squad officials died after being severely injured while defusing explosives in Malda on Tuesday.

There were reports of violence from South 24 Parganas and Kolkata South districts. In the Canning area of South 24 Parganas, a CPI(M) worker was allegedly assaulted by Trinamool cadres. There are reports of a CPI(M) worker being stripped in public and assaulted by Trinamool workers in the Kasba area of Kolkata.

No Parivartan: Rajnath

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who attended election rallies in Cooch Behar, attacked both the Trinamool Congress and the Left parties, saying there was no difference between the two.

Mr. Singh alleged that the Trinamool came to power five years ago with a promise of Parivartan (change), but West Bengal saw no change as the law-and-order situation continued to be poor.

Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, who campaigned extensively in the two districts, alleged that a section of police officials had “unleashed terror” on the people at the behest of the Election Commission. She even warned them of dire “consequences”.

The Election Commission has already taken note of her statement made at a meeting in Chandipur, and officials are examining the contents of the speech.

State Congress chief Adhir Choudhury said the State needed another Parivartan as “nothing happened except making false claims, tall talks on cinema and stage plays” in the past five years.