Polling begins for final phase of Bengal elections

Final phase of Bengal elections
Polling officials check Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and other materials at a distribution centre, on the eve of last phase of West Bengal Assembly Polls at Bolpur in Birbhum district, Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Kolkata: Polling began at 7am on Thursday for 35 seats in the eighth phase of the assembly elections in West Bengal amid the rampaging second wave of COVID-19.

Long queues were seen outside most polling booths since early morning, raising concern over the spread of the infection even as the Election Commission said that all precautionary measures are in place.

The state registered its highest single-day spike of 17,207 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, while 77 more people succumbed to the disease.

Over 84.77 lakh voters will decide the political fate of 283 candidates in this phase.

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 round of polling on April 10, an EC official said.

The poll panel has deployed 641 companies of central forces in the final phase to ensure free and fair voting, he said.

Voting is being held at 11,860 polling stations spread over 11 assembly constituencies each in Murshidabad and Birbhum, six in Malda and seven in north Kolkata.

The poll panel has placed Trinamool Congress's Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal under strict surveillance till 7 am on Friday, as the chief electoral officer received "several complaints against him".

The polling will continue till 6:30pm.

The eight-phase elections to the 294-member assembly began on March 27. The votes will be counted on Sunday.

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