Over 63 per cent voter turnout recorded till 1 PM in WB

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Kolkata, Apr 4: Heavy turnout was recorded in the first phase of Assembly election in West Bengal today with over 63 per cent of the voters casting their ballots till 1 PM in 18 constituencies, many of which are in areas earlier dominated by Maoists. Serpentine queues were seen in front of many polling booths since morning as villagers tried to avoid the scorching midday sun. So far there has been no report of any violence or disturbance.

“There were some issues with EVMs in some booths which were immediately addressed and polling is going on smoothly. We got some other complaints also and they have been addressed,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar said. Polling began at 7 AM with a tight multi-layered security cover in place.

Key candidates in this phase include Sukumar Hansda, minister-in-charge of tribal affairs department, who is fighting from Jhargram. Of the 18 seats, 13 are in Jangalmaahal area earlier affected by Maoist violence where voting will end at 4 PM due to security considerations. In the remaining five constituencies of Purulia, Manbazar, Kashipur, Para and Raghunathpur voting will go on till 6 PM. For aerial surveillance, two choppers have been conducting regular sorties. There are total 4,945 polling stations out of which 1,962 have been classified as critical by the Election Commission. Voter Verifiable Audit Trails (VVAT) are being done in 562 polling stations.

Over 40 lakh electorate will decide the fates of 133 candidates, including 11 women, who have been wooing voters in the first part of the first phase of the elections. There are a minimum of three security layers, including sector forces and a quick response team. Central forces are present in every polling booth and depending on the requirement, the deployment of forces are increased, EC sources said.

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