Kolkata, May 19: Polling across nine Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal started on Sunday morning amid a few incidents of sporadic violence and reports of EVM failures in several booths leading to either delay or stalling of the poll process, an official said.
Long queues of voters of various age groups were seen outside polling booths in the Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata South and Kolkata North constituencies.
As of 9 a.m., the voter turnout was the highest in Jadavpur (17.11 per cent), followed by Dum Dum (16.57), Mathurapur (15.68), Basirhat (15.67), Barasat (14.78), Diamond Harbour (13.32), Kolkata South (11.92), Jaynagar (11.43) and Kolkata North (11.08 per cent).
Voting will end at 6 p.m.
"A number of EVM failures across constituencies has been reported and requisite actions are being taken," said the Election Commission official.
Polling process at three booths in Dum Dum's Nagerbazar area and another at South City College under the South Kolkata seat were delayed by more than an hour, voting did not begin be till 9.30 a.m. at a booth in Jadavpur's Sonarpur.
EVM failures at several booths in Diamond Harbour, Joynagar, Barasat, Dum Dum and both the constituencies of the eastern metropolis were reported.
Crude bombs were hurled at Raidighi in Mathurapur and voters were allegedly threatened by the activists of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress while a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp office was set ablaze in Rajarhat under the Barasat constituency.
Comunist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) North Kolkata candidate Kaninika Bose (Ghosh) alleged that polling agents were beaten up and not allowed to sit inside the booths.
She staged a protest demonstration in Belgachia demanding intervention of security personnel.
In Basirhat, the BJP's Sayantan Basu and CPI candidate Pallab Sengupta alleged their polling agents were not allowed to sit at 650-700 booths.
Trinamool's Kolkata South candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was not allowed to enter a polling booth at Mudiali by the central forces after an EVM failure at the concerned booth was reported.
At least 1,49,10,643 eligible voters will decide the fate of 111 candidates in 17,058 polling booths across the nine seats.
The Kolkata North seat has the highest number of candidates (21) contesting among 42 parliamentary constituencies in Bengal, while it also has the lowest number of electorate (14.44 lakh).
To ensure peacefulpolls, 710 companies of central paramilitary forces, 461 Quick Response Teams (QRT) and state police personnel have been deployed in the nine constituencies spread over three districts -- Kolkata, 24 Parganas North and 24 Parganas South.
Stakes are high in Diamond Harbour seat as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee is contesting for a second term. He is pitted against the CPI-M's Fuad Halim, BJP's Nilanjan Roy and Soumya Aich Roy of Congress.
In Jadavpur, the battle is between popular Bengali actress and political greenhorn Mimi Chakraborty from the Trinamool against CPI-M leader and former city mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and the BJP's Anupam Hazra, who defected from Trinamool a few months back.
In Kolkata North, the BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha is pitted against sitting MP and Saradha chit fund scam accused Sudip Bandyopadhyay. The CPI-M has fielded Kaninika Bose (Ghosh) while Congress has nominated Syed Shahid Imam.
In Kolkata South, a number of star voters including Mamata Banerjee, former India cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly and a host of Bengali intellectuals, artists and film stars will cast their votes.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose is contesting in a BJP ticket while the Trinamool has fielded Mala Roy and CPI-M candidate is Jadavpur University professor Nandini Mukherjee.
The Basirhat Lok Sabha seat, bordering Bangladesh that was hit by a communal violence in 2017, has also hogged the limelight since the announcement of candidate list as another Bengali silver screen heroine Nusrat Jahan is fighting against the BJP's Sayantan Basu.
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