Fifth phase of local elections underway in India's West Bengal

Saturday, 2021-04-17 16:22:37
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Fifth phase of polling is underway in West Bengal. (Photo: PTI)
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The fifth phase of local elections in India's eastern state of West Bengal is underway on Saturday.

In the ongoing phase, voting is going on in 45 constituencies spread over six districts. According to officials, the polling started at 7:00 a.m. amid tight security and would go on until 6:30 p.m. local time.

"Polling is going on peacefully and no major untoward incident has been reported so far," an official said.

Authorities have put in place special facilities including mandatory sanitization of the polling stations, thermal checking of voters at the entry point to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the option of postal ballot facility has been extended to those who are COVID-19 positive or suspected cases and are in quarantine, along with those marked as persons with disabilities and above the age of 80 years.

Officials said people in large numbers were seen standing in queues from morning outside polling stations.

"Urging all those voting in today's fifth phase of the West Bengal elections to vote in large numbers. First-time voters, in particular, should exercise their franchise," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on social media.

Reports said the Election Commission of India has deployed 853 companies of paramilitary troopers in the poll-bound areas to ensure security.

Elections in the state would be completed in eight phases and the last phase is scheduled on April 29.

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to unseat the local All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal. Both parties have been engaged in a tough fight for the electoral battle in the state.

The counting of votes is scheduled for May 2.

Xinhua