Against the widespread perception created by a strong section of the media the eight-phase polling ended peacefully in West Bengal on Thursday (April 29).
Notwithstanding the fear of corona virus, the eighth and final phase of election too witnessed a huge turn-out. True, it was a bit lukewarm in Kolkata but not so in the rural and suburban areas of the state. In all 35 Assembly segments went to poll on Thursday. According to initial Election Commission estimates, 77% of the electorate turned out to the booths.
Before the start of the election a perception was created to justify the eight-phase of polling by claiming that elections are often marred by large-scale violence in West Bengal. But only a handful of casualties were reported in group clashes during the entire eight phases. In contrast four people lost their lives in firing by Central Industrial Security Force personnel outside a booth at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling on April 10. Later, the Election Commission accepted that the incident was the outcome of a ‘misunderstanding’ after a 14-year old boy fainted outside that booth.
The 34-day long polling process started on March 27 and the counting would take place on May 2. The Election Commission later came under strong criticism from Calcutta and Madras High Courts as top political personalities of the country openly violated the corona protocols during the election campaign.
Besides, the EC’s decision to make the whole process so long also came under strong criticism.
This was more because the prolonged election in West Bengal held up the counting in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as well.
Now that the polling has ended in West Bengal most of the Exit polls predict slender victory for Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.