Voting peaceful for GTA elections in Darjeeling, 38 per cent turnout recorded till 1 PM

  • | Sunday | 26th June, 2022

Kolkata, June 26 (PTI) Polling to Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in Darjeeling hills and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad in north Bengal has been peaceful thus far, with 38 per cent and 46 per cent voting percentages recorded respectively till 1 PM on Sunday, officials said.Elections to the GTA, the semi-autonomous council that governs the Darjeeling Hills, are being held after a decade that was marked by a series of change in the region"s political dynamics.Voting for GTA, which began at 7 am, will continue till 4 pm, while in Siliguri, the exercise is set to come to a close at 5 pm, they said."Polling so far has been peaceful; no untoward incident was reported. Till 1 PM, GTA recorded around 38 per cent turnout. At Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, the percentage stood at 45.96 per cent," an official said.GTA, which came into being in 2011, has 45 seats spread across Kalimpong district, and parts of Darjeeling district. Voting is being held in 922 polling stations, of which five have been identified as critical.Traditional hill parties such as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), besides the BJP, have boycotted the semi-autonomous council elections.Newly floated Hamro Party is contesting all seats of GTA after having clinched the Darjeeling Municipality in the recent civic polls."We have boycotted the GTA polls as it doesn"t represent the aspirations of the people of the hills. People here don"t support GTA," GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said, adding that voting percentage, this time, would be far less than what was recorded during the civic polls a few months ago.The GJM had swept the first and only GTA polls in 2012, winning all seats. Elections could not be held in 2017 due to a violent statehood agitation, with a state-appointed administrative body taking over the reins of the council.In Siliguri, elections are being held in nine seats of the Mahakuma Parishad (sub-divisional council), 22 panchayats, and four panchayat samitis.Polling was more or less peaceful in Siliguri, except for a few stray incidents.The opposition Congress and the BJP accused the TMC of bringing people from outside the Mahakuma Parishad-administered area to engage them in "proxy voting", an allegation dubbed as "baseless" by the ruling party.By-elections are also underway in six wards of six municipalities of the state.Bypoll is being held in ward number 2 of Jhalda Municipality in Purulia, where sitting Congress councillor Tapan Kandu was shot dead in March, and ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality in North 24 Parganas district, where TMC councillor Anupam Dutta was gunned down.Ward 2 in Jhalda Municipality recorded around 62.15 per cent voting till 1 PM, whereas ward number 8 of Panihati Municipality registered around 31.64 per cent.Polling is also in progress in ward 3 of Bhatpara Municipality, ward 16 of Chandannagar Municipality and ward 4 of Dumdum Municipality, as one of candidates in each of these places died ahead of the elections in February. Voting percentages registered till 1 pm in these wards were around 37.53 per cent, 44.17 per cent, and 49.46 per cent respectively.In ward number 29 of South Dumdum Municipality, around 43.25 voting percentage was recorded. PTI PNT RMS RMS

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