KOLKATA, 27 APRIL: Polling was, by and large, peaceful, but slow in a considerable part of south Kolkata during the third phase of the ongoing Assembly election today. The polling was marked by the presence of a large number of women who appeared to almost outnumber their menfolk in exercising their franchise.
Be it a polling booth in the bylane off Watgunge Road in the Kolkata Port Assembly constituency or a polling station on Nepal Bhattacharya Street, serpentine queues were absent. But voters dropped in off and on and the election process was almost free of any incident.
Scribes were disappointed after they had rushed scenting trouble towards a booth on Karl Marx Sarani. Policemen had charged to scatter a group of people who were about to block the entrance of a polling station. It was learnt later that a group of friends that was exchanging notes was thought to be a gang of troublemakers.
There were incidents of over-zealousness on the part of security men which tuned out to be a false alarm. At the solid waste management unit of the civic body at Garden Reach, a policeman asked for the election commission permission from a scribe after the latter had walked out of the polling station.
An undercurrent of holiday mood marked the polling day as local youth chatted and sipped tea as if it was a weekend. And the scene did not differ whether it was the Gariahat crossing at Ballygunge or Hazra at the junction of Bhowanipore and Rashbehari constituency.
There appeared to be a sense of new-found optimism among the voters which was induced by the presence of paramilitary forces. Be it the BSF men in olive green uniform or CRPF personnel in khaki, many of the voters seemed to have been assured by their presence.
Mr Niyaz Alam confirmed this at Kidderpore and said: “Many people have been relieved after the Central forces joined the patrolling duty in the polling booths along with the city policemen.” Zohra Bibi, who works as a household help, walked out of St Teresa’s Secondary School beaming from the polling station.
Mrs Moumi Dey, a housewife, has come all the way from Rajpur in Garia to cast her vote at the KMC primary school in Nepal Bhattacharya Street in Rashbehari Constituency. “I have come from a long distance, as I wanted to make my vote a part of a change,” she said clutching the hand of her three-year-old son. If this voter at Rashbehari was part of the paribartan brigade, there were others who did not share her views. Sonali Ray, a working woman, showing her voting ink-marked index finger at Swinhoe Street in Ballygunge said: “I voted to prevent a change for the worse which will follow if the so-called paribartan takes place.”