The West Bengal chief minister, who lost from the Nandigram constituency in the Assembly elections earlier this year, has to win this by-poll to retain the post
Voting was largely peaceful in Bhabanipur Assembly seat on Thursday, where West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting, with a relatively low voter turnout at 53.32 percent till 5 pm.
A high voting rate at 78.60 percent and 76.12 percent was recorded in Murshidabad’s Samserganj and Jangipur seats respectively, where polls had to be countermanded during the April-May Assembly elections following the death of two candidates.
A total of 6,97,164 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the three constituencies. Voting continued till 6 pm on Thursday. There were no major incidents of violence in any of the three constituencies.
Why Bhabanipur bypoll is crucial
The Bhabanipur bypoll is crucial because TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is contesting here. Banerjee is pitted against BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and CPM’s Srijib Biswas in Bhabanipur.
The chief minister, who lost from the Nandigram constituency in the Assembly elections earlier this year, has to win this by-poll to retain her post of chief minister.
Banerjee, a voter of the constituency, cast her vote at Mitra Institution school in the area.
Tibrewal claimed that TMC forcibly stopped the voting process at a polling booth in ward number 72, and that state minister Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee were trying to influence the voters in the constituency.
The BJP has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against Hakim and Mukherjee.
Hakim, however, termed the allegations as baseless. “Does having tea at a roadside stall tantamount to influencing voters? The BJP knows it will lose the bypoll and is now making lame excuses,” he said.
TMC and BJP supporters clash in Bhabanipur
A minor scuffle between supporters of the TMC and BJP was reported outside a booth in Bhabanipur over claims of the ruling party bringing fake voters inside the polling centre.
#WATCH | West Bengal: A scuffle broke out between BJP and TMC supporters in Bhabanipur assembly constituency, where voting for the by-poll is underway today. BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey’s car was allegedly vandalised. pic.twitter.com/TBiPFdsWlI
— ANI (@ANI) September 30, 2021
Security forces present at the booth brought the situation under control.
The vehicle of BJP leader Kalyan Chaubey was allegedly attacked and damaged at Bhabanipur. According to the police, there was no political connection with the incident and the attack was due to an altercation with a person on a motorbike.
The TMC also registered a complaint with the EC, accusing Tibrewal of moving with an entourage of 20 cars and intimidating voters, a charge denied by her.
The BJP later alleged that its polling agents were not allowed entry inside several booths.
Hakim said such claims were politically motivated. “If they don’t have the manpower to field polling agents, they could have told us. We would have provided them agents,” he said.
When the votes will be counted
Bhabanipur, an urban constituency in south Kolkata, has voters from different communities and religions.
About 6.97 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the three constituencies. Votes will be counted on 3 October.
With inputs from PTI