TMC supporter Nurjahan Begum died for political clash during 4th phase panchyat polling at Murshidabad district in West Bengal on 22 July 2013. (Photo: IANS)
Kolkata, July 25 Amid sporadic violence and allegations of booth capturing, the fifth and final phase of the West Bengal panchayat polls Thursday witnessed an average turnout of 38 percent till early afternoon.
Till 1 p.m., the polling percentage was 41.33 in Cooch Behar, 41.82 in South Dinajpur, 36.82 in Jalpaiguri and 34.04 in North Dinajpur district, a state election commission official in Kolkata said.
Braving hot and humid conditions, voters, especially women, queued up outside polling booths since morning to exercise their franchise.
Clashes between supporters and activists of the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were reported from various parts, resulting in injuries to a few people.
Police fired two rounds in the air at a booth in Raiganj of North Dinajpur following clashes between Congress and CPI-M workers. The Congress accused the CPI-M activists of cerrying away a ballot box, but the Marxists denied the allegation.
Trinamool leader and North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb accused the opposition Left Front activists of indulging in violence and trying to capture polling booths in some areas.
He also claimed that workers of rival parties had injured a dozen of his partymen.
The CPI-M too said that Trinamool-patronised goons attacked and left several of its workers injured.
Four members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, a constituent of the Left Front, were reportedly injured in a clash with the activists of the ruling Trinamool at Mainaguri of Jalpaiguri district.
There were allegations of opposition polling agents being driven out, booth capturing, proxy voting and other electoral malpractices from all the four districts.
Overall, the region is witnessing a triangular contest involving the Congress, the Left Front and the Trinamool.
About 64 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 7,961 polling booths in the four districts. About 28,591 candidates are in the fray for 7,342 zilla parishad (district council), panchayat samiti and gram panchayat seats in the three-tier polls.
Violence has claimed at least 23 lives since the start of the polls July 11. The state election commission has requisitioned 53 companies of central armed police forces besides personnel from the state police force for the final round.
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