Bengal Bypolls

People line up to cast their votes during by-polls for the Noapara Assembly seat in West Bengal Jan. 29. Four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the Noapara seat, which was left vacant following the death of Congress legislator Madhusudan Ghose. (IANS photo)

KOLKATA — Between 75 and 76 percent of residents cast their votes in the by-poll elections for the Uluberia Lok Sabha and Noapara Assembly seats in West Bengal Jan. 29, an Election Commission official said, noting that the polls were busy until closing.

The official said the polls were peaceful, but opposition parties accused the state's ruling Trinamool Congress of indulging in rampant booth capturing in most of the polling centers.

"Till 5 p.m., 76.7 percent votes were cast in Uluberia, whereas Noapara saw a 75.3 percent turnout of voters," the poll panel official said.

The  Communist Party of India (Marxist) alleged that its agents were either not allowed to enter or were driven out of 391 booths in Uluberia.

The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the Trinamool of "keeping up its tradition" of using muscle power to clinch the votes. "They used the administrative machinery and indulged in vote loot."

State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said five of his party workers were hospitalized when they tried to stop the Trinamool-backed "goons" who were trying to loot booths.

Nine candidates are in the fray for the Uluberia seat, where the election has been necessitated following the death of sitting Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed.

The Trinamool Congress has nominated Ahmed's widow Sajda, while Sabiruddin Molla is the Left candidate from the CPI-(M).

Anupam Mallik is fighting on a BJP ticket and Madassar Hossain Warsi is the Congress nominee.

Four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the Noapara seat, where the death of Congress legislator Madhusudan Ghose necessitated the by-poll.

The Congress contestant is Goutam Bose, the Trinamool candidate is Sunil Singh while the CPI-(M) has nominated Gargi Chatterjee. Sandip Banerjee is the BJP candidate.

The vote counting will take place Feb. 1.

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