Kolkata: Sporadic instances of violence and intimidation were reported from a few areas in West Bengal where voting is on for panchayat polls. Allegations of booth capture against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has also been received from some areas.
Till 2 pm the voting percentage in Bankura was 43 per cent, Purulia 51 and West Midnapore 44.
The polling for the first of the five-phase panchayat polls in West Bengal started on Thursday in the three districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore which till recently were Maoist strongholds. The polling began amidst tight security.
This is going to be a crucial test for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who had taken on the State Election Commission (SEC) over security and poll date issues. Some 50,000 state and central troops have been deployed to maintain law and order. The government may also make use of additional 20 companies of the CRPF from among the 43 companies deployed in Jungal Mahal for anti-Maoist operations.
The issue of central security forces had been a bone of contention between the SEC and the state government, with Mamata being initially opposed to requisitioning uniformed personnel from the Centre.
In the poll fray are 25,646 candidates across the three tiers of panchayat. Over 74 lakh people will vote in the three districts across 10,038 polling stations.
The Supreme Court had suggested the polls to be held in five phases from July 11 which were earlier decided to be held in three phases from July 2.
The Chief Minister has also led scathing verbal attack against the SEC for taking the state government till the Supreme Court and forcing it to accept elections during Ramzan.