Vastavam Web: An estimated 83.79 per cent of 34.52 lakh voters exercised their franchise in Cooch Behar and Alipurduar Lok Sabha constituencies in the first phase of polls in the state, an election department official said Friday. In Cooch Behar (SC), 83.88 per cent electorate cast their votes till 6 pm Thursday, while Alipurduar (ST) seat registered 83.70 per cent polling, he said. No incident of violence was reported from any part of the two constituencies and the first-phase of the seven-phase election in the state was largely “peaceful”, he said. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) as well as the opposition BJP and the Congress, however, complained that polling was not undertaken in a free and fair manner in the two parliamentary seats. TMC leader and North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh alleged that EVMs malfunctioned in several booths and it could be part of the opposition’s conspiracy to manipulate votes. A presiding officer at Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar constituency has been showcased following complaints that he allowed some unidentified persons inside the booth, the election department official stated.
Asked about parties seeking re-poll in several polling stations in Cooch Behar constituency, he said the department is reviewing the reports of the presiding officers and a decision will be taken soon. With the conclusion of the first phase, the fate of 18 candidates in the two seats has been sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines. The ruling TMC and the BJP are the main contenders in the two north Bengal seats, while Left Front constituents – the Forward Bloc and the RSP – and the Congress are fighting to prove their existence. Polling in the remaining 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held in six more phases.