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Polling in the first phase of 6-phase Assembly elections in Bengal saw an improvement in poll percentage with the final figure standing at slightly over 80%.
Monday’s polling, which took place under a heavy security, was largely peaceful, with stray incidents of violence and allegations of rigging.
The polling percentage in the 18 Assembly seats that witnessed elections during the day stood at 80.4%, compared to 77.3% in 2011 in the same seats. Polling in 13 seats, considered sensitive by the Election Commission, ended at 4 pm while at five seats, the process continued till 6 pm. 
Heavy turnout was reported from most seats, the polling percentage crossing 60% in most seats across Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts by 1 pm. Security measures did not leave much ground for Opposition parties to complain.
Most parts of these three districts looked like fortresses with central security forces personnel manning booths. The measures were put in place with the poll panel taking into consideration the demands of the Left, Congress and the BJP.
An estimated 40 lakh voters exercised their franchise during the day, EC officials said.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer Dibyendu Sarkar told reporters that complains of malfunctioning voting machines in some booths, “…was immediately addressed”. Officials said that polling was slightly slow between 1 pm and 5 pm with the Mercury crossing 37 degrees Celsius, but most people had cast their votes in the morning hours. “More than 45% people cast their votes by 11 am,” an EC official said.

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Todays Epaper

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