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EOI, Darjeeling
17 Apr 2016: Amid allegations and counter allegations by candidates notwithstanding, the second phase of the West Bengal Assembly election in the three constituencies of Darjeeling district today ended by and large peacefully, with voter turnout recorded at 69 per cent by five in the evening.
The overall turnout in the six Assembly Constituencies of the district was recorded at 74 per cent when voting ended. The six constituencies comprise Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong in the hills, and Matigara-Naxalbari, Siliguri and Phansidewa in the plains.
In the hills, voters were seen queued up outside polling booths from early in the morning even as the weather remained cloudy and chilly throughout the day. Central forces personnel manned the booths to ensure voters got to exercise their franchise freely and without any kind of intimidation.
Even so, candidates of the five parties in the fray, namely of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Trinamool Congress, Jan Andolan Party, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist and Gorkha Rastriya Congress, didn’t stop from accusing one another of rigging and intimidation although there were no reports of violence anywhere.
JAP candidate Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who cast his vote at Chandraloke Junior Basic School in Kalimpong, complained about GJM activists intimidating voters outside polling booths even as he maintained he was confident of winning. “They (GJM) have lost the people’s faith and are resorting to intimidation. I am confident the majority of votes will be cast for me,” he said.
Shanta Chhetri of the TMC and Govind Chhetri of the CPRM, who cast their votes at Kurseong College in Kurseong and Hindi Himachal School in Darjeeling, respectively voiced similar allegations. “GJM agents were asking voters to vote for their party’s candidates. I will complain to the election commission about this. However, this (election) is a court and voters are the judges, and I am sure they will make the correct decision by voting for me,” said Govind Chhetri.
Meanwhile, Amar Singh Rai, the GJM candidate from Darjeeling, said he was satisfied with the voting process and sounded confident of an outright win by the Morcha. “There were two incidents where TMC polling agents tried to enter booths they were not assigned to. I apprised the returning officer about this. Other than that, polling went off well and I am satisfied. I am getting reports from our party members in Kalimpong and Kurseong that our candidates are doing well,” he said.
GJM president Bimal Gurung, who cast his vote early in the morning at the Patleybas Community Hall booth, said, “Voting went off peacefully and in a disciplined manner and I am satisfied. I am 100 per cent certain that we will win not only in the hills, but also in the Terai and Dooars regions.”
According to a report by the district election commission, overall polling stood at 74 percentage points by 5pm, and of the 89 complaints received, 83 had been disposed of while the remaining six were in the process. “Several complaints were received from the participating parties and most were redressed,” informed Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava, who is also the District Election Officer.
Darjeeling SP Amit Javalgi said three poll-related arrests were made from across the hills during the course of the day. “In Darjeeling, two alleged GJM supporters were arrested for casting double votes and a case has been started against them. While in Kalimpong, a man was arrested for selling liquor,” he said.