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India

Bhabanipur Bypoll: BJP Alleges TMC Trying To Influence Voters, EC Refutes Claims; Low Voter Turnout Reported

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is pitted against BJP's Priyanka Tibrewal and CPI(M)'s Srijib Biswas in Bhabanipur.

Kolkata: A paramilitary jawan checks the voter slip of a voter at a polling station during voting for Bhabanipur Assembly bypolls, in Kolkata, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Kolkata: The voter turnout was low at Bhabanipur Assembly constituency in the first few hours of polling on Thursday. Till 3 pm about 48.08 per cent voters had exercised their franchise in Bhabanipur compared to 68.17 per cent in Jangipur and 72.45 per cent at Samserganj.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee casted her vote at Mitra Institute in Bhawanipore. She entered the polling station at 3:12 pm and left at 3:15 pm. Banerjee greeted the locals who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the chief minister but she did not answer any questions of the media.

The voting was largely peaceful amidst a huge deployment of central forces and Kolkata Police personnel. Quick Response Teams were seen doing rounds while the central forces were seen doing route marches to instil confidence among the common man to come out and vote.

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Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) candidate from Bhabanipur, Priyanka Tibrewal, raised several allegations of electoral malpractices at few polling booths. The office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), however, refuted the allegations saying no irregularities have been found in webcasting at the booths.

Tibrewal and other BJP supporters were also seen chasing a person, who the BJP alleged was not a voter of the constituency, from a polling booth from Khalsa High School in the constituency. The BJP alleged that TMC had sent the individual to cast false vote. The election commission denied the charge made by BJP.

TMC transport minister Firhad Hakim said, “Priyanka Tibrewal has no right to catch a false voter. She should know what she is allowed when she is a candidate. She has been making baseless allegations, the Election Commission has also refuted her charges.”

The BJP also raised allegations against two state ministers, Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, of trying to influence voters while making rounds of polling booths in the constituency. The saffron party questioned that since both are not candidates, why are they being allowed to visit polling booths. In their complaint letter, the BJP stated, “This is in gross violation of the provisions of the rules. These two ministers should be immediately detained in a police station outside the area of this constituency till atleast the polling process is over.”

Hakim told reporters, “I have never done anything unethical in my entire life. I have never ever tried to influence voters. She knows that she will lose so she is making these allegations of booth rigging.”

“TMC MLA Madan Mitra has purposely shut the voting machine here (polling booth of ward number 72) as he wants to capture the booth,” alleged Tibrewal.

The TMC also alleged Priyanka Tibrewal has been “causing traffic jam with her convoy of 30 cars”.

Bhabanipur bypolls are crucial because West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is contesting from the seat. Banerjee is contesting the bypolls as in the 2021 Assembly Elections she lost from Nandigram Assembly seat to Suvendhu Adhikari. Elections in Jangipur and Samserganj were postponed in April due the death of two candidates.