Bengal by-elections: Voting begin, brisk and peaceful in first 2 hours

KOLKATA: The by-polls for the Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge Assembly constituencies in West Bengal were mostly peaceful on Tuesday, with few instances of poll-related irregularities. The polls opened at 7:00 a.m.

According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the polling percentage in the Asansol Lok Sabha seat was 13% at 9 a.m., while it was 8% in the Ballygunge Assembly constituency.

The presence of Kolkata Police personnel within a few of election booths was reported to the Election Commission of India by BJP candidate Keya Ghosh from Ballygunge in the morning.

After an investigation, the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) rejected the applications. Babul Supriyo of the Trinamool Congress and Saira Shah Halim of the CPI-M are Ghosh's closest rivals for the Ballygunge Assembly by polls.

Agnimitra Paul, the BJP candidate from Asansol, made a similar allegation about state police officers stationed in specific constituency booths. The Trinamool Congress filed a counter-complaint against Paul, alleging that she was escorted to the polls by armed security personnel who had been assigned to her. This time, Trinamool has fielded Shatrughan Sinha, a prominent Bollywood actor from Asansol. Partha Mukherjee is the CPI-M candidate from Asansol.

While the Assembly constituency of Ballygunge has 300 booths, the Lok Sabha constituency of Asansol has 2,102. In Ballygunge, a total of 23 booths have been designated as sensitive.

Asansol has 442 micro-observers, whereas Ballygunge has 40. The central armed forces have deployed a total of 133 companies for the bypolls, with 116 companies assigned to Asansol and the remaining 17 companies to Ballygunge.

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