Polling began at 7 am on Thursday for the by-election to the Bhabanipur seat, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting, and two other constituencies amid tight security and stringent COVID-19 measures, officials said.
The by-polls are being held in south Kolkata’s Bhabanipur, besides Jangipur and Samserganj seats in Murshidabad district.
A total 6,97,164 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the three constituencies. Votes will be counted on October 3.
Ms Banerjee, who lost from the Nandigram constituency in the assembly elections earlier this year, has to win this by-poll to retain the chief minister’s post.
Polls had to be countermanded in Jangipur and Samserganj in April following the death of two candidates.
As part of its elaborate security arrangements, the Election Commission has deployed 72 companies of central forces in the three constituencies, of which 35 are stationed in Bhabanipur alone, the officials said.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed within 200 metres of the polling centres.
Long queues were seen since early morning outside several booths across the constituencies. Voting will continue till 6 pm.
The polling centres have been stocked up with masks and sanitisers as part of the COVID-19 guidelines, the officials said.
Ms Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress supremo, is pitted against BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and CPI(M)’s Srijib Biswas in Bhabanipur.
Here are the LIVE Updates on Bhabanipur Bypoll:
Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday alleged that not every voter can cast their votes in Bhabanipur bypolls as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) will prevent voters to get out of their homes.
Briefing mediapersons, Mr Chowdhury said, “We are contesting in Samserganj. TMC is causing violence there. They have attacked local journalists. The administration is silent as they are the agents of TMC.”
“We have trust in Election Commission. Our only demand is that the Commission must ensure that people cast their votes peacefully. I believe that not everyone can cast their vote in Bhabanipur. TMC will try to prevent the voters who probably do not give their votes to the party to get out of their homes,” added the Congress leader.
WB | Bhabanipur set for bypoll today, polling to begin at 7 am and end at 6 pm
Bhabanipur constituency will today seal the fate of TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, who is looking to enter the state Assembly before end of her 6 month period of Chief Ministership-without-being-an-MLA. pic.twitter.com/uFbYEGRmsx
– ANI (@ANI) September 30, 2021