National

WB: Peaceful polling; campaigning ends for final phase

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 26, 2021

A long queue of voters outside a polling station during the 7th phase of assembly polls, in Kolkata on Monday   -  PTI

Amidst a record surge in Covid-19 infections in West Bengal, polls for the penultimate phase remained mostly peaceful.

Voter turnout in Kolkata - the southern parts of the city that went to polls on Monday - remained a low 60 per cent.

The Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, who herself is a voter from the region, had urged people to come out and vote in large numbers.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted “The seventh phase of the West Bengal elections takes place today. Urging people to exercise their franchise and follow all COVID-19 related protocols,” he wrote.

City turnouts are generally lower than suburbs or rural areas, say sources adding that fears of Covid infections could also be at play. Kolkata incidentally is the worst hit district with 3,000-odd fresh infections being added on April 25.

The overall average turnout across all 34 constituencies remained at around 75 per cent.

Stray incidents of violence were also reported, including clashes between Trinamool Congress and Congress supporters on the outskirts of Kolkata and clashes between TMC and the BJP in Malda.

Low key campaigning

Meanwhile, campaigning for the final phase ended today. Campaigning remained a low key affair in view of increased infections and fatigue creeping in over the long drawn poll schedule.

Only 34 more seats, including some in Kolkata, will go to the polls on April 29 in the eighth and final phase.

With rallies and road shows being banned due to Covid, most parties went for smaller meetings, press conferences and virtual addresses.

Dig at ECI

The WB CM yet again alleged that the Election Commission of India (ECI) was behaving in a “partial manner” especially with the Trinamool.

Referring to the Madras High Court observation about laxity by ECI in poll campaigning leading to Covid surge, Banerjeee alleged, “the institution was playing openly for the BJP.”

“The ECI is also responsible, along with Narendra Modi for a spurt in Covid cases in Bengal and India. Why should additional 300,000 people be here? Why will they not have faith in the State police,” Banerjee questioned.

BJP’s retort

BJP President, JP Nadda, said the Trinamool’s discourse this poll season has been “at its lowest”. He accused Banerjee of misleading people on Covid and the vaccination campaign.

“Mamata Banerjee has made all efforts to mislead the people of Bengal and to instigate them using issues like insider-outsider and culture,” he said addressing a virtual public meeting.

“How is the State government providing daily updates on vaccinations to the Centre, if vaccines are not available in West Bengal,” he countered.

Published on April 26, 2021

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