70 to 75 percent voting in West Bengal civic polls despite violence

     The West Bengal civic polls witnessed 70 to 75 per cent polling on Sunday despite violent incidents reported from different parts of the State. In today’s polls, about 8.5 million voters exercised their franchise in 81 municipalities. At various polling booths, hundreds of voters made a beeline to cast their franchise. Incidents of skirmishes and bomb-throwing were reported from some parts of the State during which some people suffered injuries and police had to fire to disburse the miscreants. Given the highly charged atmosphere across the state over Sunday’s civic elections, worse was expected but trouble was thankfully limited. Trouble broke out between the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist ( CPI -M) cadres and Trinamool Congress workers in Jamuria of Burdwan, and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district. The security forces had to resort to baton charge to control the situation. Activists of the two parties also clashed in Beleghata in the city, stalling the polling. At some places, there were complaints of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) snags affecting the polling. Political issues and not civic problems had taken centrestage in the run up to the polls, but Friday's Gyaneswhari Express derailment, which claimed 145 lives, has eclipsed all other matters over the last three days. Drowned in the political cacophony were the civic issues -- water supply, roads, sanitation, maintenance of parks and pollution -- that are of critical concern to the people. Sunday’s poll is considered as the last trial of strength for the contesting parties ahead of the assembly election which are expected to be scheduled in 2011.

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