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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Live Updates: 66 per cent votes cast till 3 pm in 3 Lok Sabha seats, BJP-TMC workers clash at Cooch Behar

If we get even one seat more than the Trinamul, the state government won’t last till 2026, says Balurghat MP and state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar

Our Web Desk Calcutta Published 19.04.24, 07:17 AM
Long queues of voters, at polling stations in West Bengal's Cooch Behar casting their vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections.

Long queues of voters, at polling stations in West Bengal's Cooch Behar casting their vote in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections. X / @ECISVEEP

  • A voter turnout of 66.34 per cent was recorded till 3 pm in the three Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal where elections were underway in the first phase on Friday, officials said.
  • Residents of Bhetaguri in Cooch Behar protest against North Bengal minister Udayan Guha over arrest of a BJP panchayat functionary
  • In Siliguri, police attempt to arrest Dabgram-Fulbari BJP MLA Shikha Chattopadhyay foiled by BJP workers. The Assembly seat is a part of the Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha seat. Chattopadhyay accused the police of trying to stop her from visiting the booths in her constituency. "I dare them to arrest me. Why can't I move in my Assembly constituency area?," asked Chattopadhyay.
  • A voter turnout of 50.96 per cent was recorded till 1 pm in the three Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal where elections were underway in the first phase
  • "Till 1 pm, the voter turnout in Coochbehar was 50.69 per cent, while that in Jalpaiguri was 50.65 per cent, and in Alipurduars was 51.58 per cent," an election official said.
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  • A voter turnout of 33.63 per cent was recorded till 11 am in the three Lok Sabha seats
  • Voter attacked in Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi allegedly by Trinamul supporters
  • Over 15 per cent of 56.26 lakh voters of three Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal exercised their franchise till 9 am on Friday, an Election Commission official said
  • "Till 9 am, voter turnout in Coochbehar is 15.26 per cent while that in Alipurduars and Jalpaiguri is 15.91 per cent and 14.13 per cent respectively," the official said
  • North Bengal minister and Dinhata MLA Udayan Guha visits injured Trinamul workers at the Dinhata sub-divisional hospital
  • Clash between BJP and Trinamul workers at Cooch Behar's Chandamari
  • Cooch Behar Lok Sabha: At Sitalkuchi, BJP alleged its workers were attacked with sharp weapons
  • Cooch Behar Lok Sabha: In Sitai's Rajakhara Trinamul alleges BJP leaders threatened the rival workers at a camp office near the booth. Trinamul nominee Jagadish Chandra Basunia rushed to the Rajakhara camp

In the 13 years that Mamata Banerjee has been at the helm in Bengal, two regions in the state have shown signs of slipping out of her grip: north Bengal and Jungle Mahal.

Polling is being held at the three constituencies of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri in North Bengal on Friday. The region has changed hands since 2009 from the Left to the Trinamul and then BJP.

Five years ago the BJP won seven of the eight seats in North Bengal, from Cooch Behar to Maldah, turning the region into a saffron stronghold.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been camping in the region for over a fortnight with brief breaks and held multiple public meetings and road shows. Narendra Modi has addressed rallies in favour of BJP nominees.

On Thursday, the chief minister was in Balurghat and Raigunj, which will go to polls in the second phase. If the prolonged visits reek of desperation, the chief minister indeed is desperate.

In the 2021 Assembly polls, though the Trinamul regained some of the lost territory, the BJP remains a force to reckon with in the north Bengal districts. A good showing in this Lok Sabha polls and the BJP is confident it would not have to wait till the next Assembly elections to unseat the Trinamul in the state.

“If we get even one seat more than the Trinamul, the state government won’t last till 2026,” Balurghat MP and state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar had told PTI last month.

During a public meeting in Jalpaiguri’s Dhupguri, Narendra Modi had emphasized that Jalpaiguri, like the rest of the seats in North Bengal, had decided on electing BJP nominees. “This election is not for one MP. This is to elect a strong government to make a strong country,” Modi had said.

Just a week ago, during a public meeting, Mamata had laid bare her desperation before the electorate as she repeatedly asked, why the North Bengal voters rejected the Trinamul.

“What was the Trinamul’s fault? Why did BJP win all the seats in North Bengal?” she had asked at an election campaign meeting for the Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha seat.

On the other hand, the CPM and the Congress, despite having worked out an understanding on seat-sharing, could not resolve their differences in Cooch Behar where both the Congress and the Forward Bloc, a Left Front constituent, have fielded candidates. Apart from the state leaders of both the CPM and the Congress, national leaders have left north Bengal out of their campaign itinerary.

Bengal’s long history of violence associated with elections has also cast its shadow. In Sitalkuchi – a part of the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha - where four people were killed by police firing during the 2021 Assembly polls, allegations of armed Trinamul workers intimidating BJP cadres surfaced two nights before polling. State minister Udayan Guha and his men had several run-ins with the supporters of BJP’s Pramanik in the recent past, making it unlikely for Bengal to break the cycle of violence.

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