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Brisk polling amid sporadic violence in Bengal civic polls

Kolkata, June 3 - Brisk polling marred by incidents of sporadic violence was reported Sunday during elections for six civic bodies in West Bengal -- being viewed as a barometer of the popularity of the Mamata Banerjee government.

The elections are also a test of the relative strengths of the union and state's ruling alliance partners Trinamool Congress and Congress which are fighting separately for the first time after last year's assembly polls.

Elections are being held for civic bodies in Durgapur in Burdwan district, Panskura and Haldia in East Midnapore, Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri, Cooper's Camp in Nadia and Nalhati in Birbhum district. State Election Commission sources said 37-49 percent voters had cast their franchise so far.

The poll results would also be an indicator on whether the opposition Left Front has succeeded in regaining lost ground.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front, whose 34-year reign in the state came to an end last year, is contesting on almost all the 129 seats and hoping to cash in on the triangular fight.

The sources said parties had been filing complaints and counter-complaints, though there were no reports of any major incident.

In 2007, the Left Front had won in three of the six civic bodies. The Congress won two while Congress-Trinamool alliance bagged one.

However, the Congress lost control of Nalhati some time back after its elected councillors switched over to Trinamool.

Nalhati has generated keen interest because the Congress' campaign is being led by local legislator Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

CPI-M leaders have complained of irregularities. They alleged sporadic rigging, ransacking of their camp offices by the Trinamool and their polling agents being forced to withdraw in various booths.


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