Voting began amid incidents of violence in West Bengal, where an estimated 34.71 per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 11 am on Monday in eight Lok Sabha constituencies, election officials said.
An electorate of 1,34,56,491 will decide the fate of 68 candidates in the eight constituencies — Baharampur, Krishnagar, Ranaghat (SC), Burdwan East (SC), Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur (SC) and Birbhum.
There were reports of a clash between TMC and BJP workers outside a booth in Barabani in Asansol, following a tiff between sitting MP and BJP candidate in Asansol, Babul Supriyo and polling officials inside the station, an Election Commission source said.
Supriyo’s vehicle was also reportedly vandalised in the clash, he said.
“I have come here just to see how the polling process is underway, but I found that voters are not being allowed to cast their ballots. Our fight is to establish democracy…It is shameful that I am saying this in a democratic country,” the minister said.
However, an EC official said by and large, polling has so far been peaceful.
“There are reports of small incidents of violence from some booths which were addressed immediately. Our officials and forces are monitoring the situation in Asansol,” the official told PTI.
“We have sought a report from the presiding officer about what Babul Supriyo was doing inside the booth,” he added.
Till 11 am, Baharampur recorded voting at 36.11 per cent, Krishnagar 34.85 per cent, Ranaghat (SC) 35.12 per cent, Burdwan East (SC) 36.09 per cent, Burdwan-Durgapur 34.64 per cent, Asansol 34.28 per cent, Bolpur (SC) 32.49 per cent and Birbhum 34.10 per cent, the state election office said.
The EC has deployed a total of 580 companies of central forces to cover all the polling booths in the Lok Sabha constituencies, to ensure free and fair polling.
The eight seats will see a four-cornered contest between the Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and the Left Front.