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    Polling begins for Bengal by-polls

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    Polling began amidst enthusiasm for by-elections to two Lok Sabha and one assembly seats in West Bengal at 7 a.m. on Saturday.

    An electorate of nearly 3,524,977, including 1,689,735 females and 38 from the third gender are eligible to choose their representatives from among 23 candidates vying for honours in Cooch Behar (Reserved-Scheduled Castes) and Tamluk parliamentary constituencies and Monteshwar assembly seat.

    Cooch Behar has the maximum number of contestants (10), followed by Tamluk (7) and Monteshwar (6), whose fate would be decided in over 500 Electronic Voting machines spread across 4,121 polling stations.

    The state’s principal political parties — the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Left Front and the BJP — are in fray for all three seats.

    The elections are being held under the shadow of the central government’s demonetisation move to unearth black money and counterfeit coins, that has caused turmoil across the nation.

    Since the November 8 announcement banning Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people have been forced to stand in long queues at banks and ATMs for the elusive cash. Trade and business have also been hit.

    The Cooch Behar parliamentary constituency fell vacant after the death of Trinamool’s Renuka Sinha, while Tamluk has gone to the hustings as the incumbent MP Suvendu Adhikari became a minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet.

    Trinamool lawmaker Sajal Panja’s death has caused the Monteshwar assembly by-poll.

    The vote count is on Tuesday.

     

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