Voting begins in Howrah Lok Sabha bypoll

Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) Amid tight security, voting began for the Howrah Lok Sabha by-poll in West Bengal Sunday with nearly 20 percent turnout recorded in the first two hours, an official said.

The crucial bypoll is a three-way contest between the Trinamool Congress and its former ally the Congress, and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). The poll was necessitated following the death of Trinamool Congress MP Ambica Banerjee April 25.

According to an Election Commission official, 20 percent turnout was recorded for the first two hours. Voting has been peaceful with no reports of violence so far.

With over 14 lakh voters to exercise their franchise, 30 companies of central security forces have been deployed for the poll.

Two camera-mounted special vehicles providing live feed of the polling booths are patrolling the area with election officials keeping an eye at the proceedings.

While the Trinamool Congress has nominated former international footballer Prasun Banerjee, advocate Sanatan Mukherjee is contesting on the Congress ticket. The CPI-M led Left Front has nominated Sridip Bhattacharya.

Though it announced its candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party later withdrew from the election, resulting in the Congress and the Left accusing the Trinamool Congress of having a "tacit understanding" with the BJP.

The result of the vote will be announced Wednesday.

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