The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Thank you: CPM to poll panel after Round Two betters turnout

April 23: The second phase of polling yesterday clocked an overall turnout of 84 per cent, three notches above the first phase.

East Midnapore recorded 89.65 per cent, Nadia 87.49, Hooghly 81.64 and Howrah 76.75. After the April 17 elections in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, the turnout was put at 81 per cent.

The state's chief electoral officer, Debashis Sen, said the reports from the commission's observers suggested no foul play and so there would be no repolls.

As after the first phase, he handed the credit for the high turnout to the commission.

'There has been a high turnout following increased awareness among the voters to exercise their franchise and the confidence-building measures initiated by the Election Commission,' Sen told reporters.

The CPM, likewise, preened itself on its success in motivating voters to make it to the booths. 'Our main aim was to ensure maximum turnout. We instructed our workers to go door-to-door and see to it that every voter exercised their franchise,' said Sumit Dey, the party's Nadia secretariat member who oversaw the polling in the district.

The CPM leaders, however, also gave credit to the commission, but indirectly. They admitted that the panel's observers and other officials, who had been travelling from house to house to ensure a clean voter list since rolls revision began, had helped raise awareness.

'The activity by the Election Commission went in our favour. The voters came out in large numbers to vote,' said Lakshman Seth, the party MP from Haldia, East Midnapore.

The CPM had weeks ago accused the commission of bias and suggested that voters would come out in strength in protest against its high-handedness.

The chief electoral officer said a nine-member team from the commission would arrive in Calcutta and oversee the issuance of certificates to those who have neither the voters' photo-identity card nor any of the 12 other documents the commission accepts as proof of identity. These voters would be given certificates on Monday so that they can vote in the third phase on Thursday.

The certificates will be issued from the sub-divisional officers' (SDOs') offices in the districts and the Survey Building, Jessop Building and Netaji Indoor Stadium in Calcutta.

'These certificates would be issued in the presence of the candidate or his or her representative, an observer and one of nine members of the Election Commission team who are on their way from New Delhi,' Sen said.

'The entire process would be videographed and stored.'

Sen added that an 'adjournment poll' would be held on Tuesday at the two booths in Bhatgachhi village in Nadia's Chapra Assembly constituency. 'The polls will only be for voters who were thwarted by a fire in the village yesterday afternoon.'

Deputy election commissioner Anand Kumar met Sen today to discuss the third phase in Calcutta, North and South 24-Parganas.

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