According to the Election Commission figures, West Bengal and Assam saw 79.79% and 76.89% polling till 5pm respectively. The polling percentage may increase further when the final numbers are out.
Here’s how the day unfolded …
Voting was held in 30 seats in the state amid tight security and strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.
A majority of these seats were part of the once-Maoist-hit Jangalmahal region.
In some booths, voters were provided with masks, sanitisers and polythene gloves.
Of the 30 seats that went to polls — nine are in Purulia, four each in Bankura and Jhargram, six in Paschim Medinipur, and seven in high-stakes Purba Medinipur district.
More than 73 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 191 candidates during the first phase of .
Purba Medinipur recorded the highest turnout at 82.51 per cent, followed by Jhargram at 80.56, Paschim Medinipur at 80.12 per cent, Bankura at 79.90 per cent and Purulia at 77.07 per cent.
Violence in some areas
While polling was largely peaceful, there were sporadic incidents of violence in some places.
In Kanthi Dakshin seat of Purba Medinipur district, voters staged protests outside a polling booth over alleged malfunctioning of an electronic voting machine.
The agitators blocked a road outside a polling station at Majna, claiming that the VVPAT slip showed results in favour of a particular party, no matter which outfit they voted for.
A contingent of central forces was sent to the area to control the situation, an EC official said, adding that the VVPAT machine was eventually replaced.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, during a rally in West Midnapore, claimed that the BJP has manipulated EVMs and used central forces to intimidate the voters.
“Today, in some polling booths of Kanthi, the VVPAT showed that votes were getting polled in favour of the BJP, even as a person pressed the button next to the symbol of some other party. In some areas, central forces were seen threatening voters. The EC must take action,” she said.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s younger brother Soumendu claimed he was attacked in Kanthi by TMC supporters.
He also alleged that his car was vandalised, and his driver sustained injuries in the attack.
“I was passing through Kanthi, when the TMC supported hurled bricks at my car and smashed its window panes. It seems they have lost their minds, sensing defeat,” Soumendu said.
At Mohonpur in Dantan assembly constituency, four people were injured in clashes between workers of the TMC and the BJP, after alleged attempts to capture booths were made by some of them.
At Keshiari in Paschim Medinipur, security forces baton-charged locals who staged demonstrations, claiming that votes were being cast only in favour of one party.
Later in the day, the protesters blocked an adjoining road stating that security forces attacked women during house-to-house raids.
A man identified as Mangal Soren was found dead near his home in Begumpur area of Keshiari earlier in the day, the police said.
BJP leaders claimed that Soren, a party supporter, was killed by TMC “goons”, a charge rubbished by the ruling party.
In its report to the EC, the district administration said the death had no connection with the polling process.
Dipak Bauri, a BJP leader in Purulia, claimed that the constituency’s TMC candidate Sujoy Bandyopadhyay threatened to shoot him during an altercation.
In Paschim Medinipur’s Salboni seat, CPM candidate Susanta Ghosh was heckled, and stones were hurled at his car, allegedly by TMC supporters. Police personnel posted in the area escorted him to safety.
According to reports, a few journalists who were covering the incident were also manhandled.
An EC official said three people were arrested in connection with the attack.
The TMC, however, denied any involvement.
Polling for 47 seats in the first phase of elections in Assam ended peacefully with a turnout of 72.46 per cent.
Rupohihat constituency witnessed the highest voting percentage at 83 per cent while Sootea constituency saw the lowest voting percentage at 64 per cent.
Bokakhat district reported the highest voter turnout at 80 per cent while Nazira reported the lowest voter turnout at 64 per cent.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal cast his vote at JP Nagar constituency in the Dibrugarh district.
State Congress chief Ripun Bora also cast his vote earlier in the day in the Gohpur district.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal shows his inked finger after casting his vote (ANI Photo)
Over 81.09 lakh voters were eligible to cast their votes in this phase.
A total of 264 candidates are in the fray for 47 seats — 42 seats from 11 districts of upper Assam and northern Assam region and five seats from central Assam’s Nagaon district.
While the fear of Covid loomed large, Assam’s voters stepped out of their homes with caution to exercise their franchise and seemed satisfied with the facilities to check the spread of the virus.
Besides, voters were happy with arrangements to take care of children while their mothers voted, and ferry people with disabilities to polling stations.
The next round of polling in both the states will be held on April 1. The counting will take place on May 2.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)