Nandigram, the seat of the state's highest-profile electoral battle in this Assembly election, has recorded a lower polling rate than the other seats voting on Thursday in the second of the eight-phase polling.
The seat has remained tense since morning, amid allegations against both Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of intimidating voters whom they thought to be potential voters of the opponent camp.
According to the Election Commission's reports, the 30 seats voting on Thursday recorded 71.07 per cent polling on an average till 3.30 pm. In East Midnapore district, where Nandigram is located, 71.89 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes till 3.30 pm.
However, in Nandigram, the polling percentage stood at 69.53.
Among the other districts where elections are taking place in this phase, Bankura recorded 73.8 per cent polling till 3.30 pm, while for West Midnapore and South 24-Parganas the figure stood at 70.27 per cent and 65.83 per cent, respectively.
In East Midnapore, most other seats recorded a higher polling percentage than Nandigram. They are Chandipur (73.27 per cent), Mahishadal (75.4 per cent), Nandakumar (72.3 per cent) and Tamluk (74.12 per cent).
Some local residents blamed “an atmosphere of terror” for the relatively low turnout.
"The BJP is terrorising TMC supporters in Hindu-dominated areas over the past few days while in Muslim-dominated areas the TMC threatened BJP supporters," said a local resident who did not want to be identified.
The tension is more intense in areas with a mixed population.
Nandigram has usually seen a high polling rate in elections held since the 2006 Assembly polls and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the TMC. But no past equation can work in this election, as the TMC's main leader for Nandigram, Suvendu Adhikary, is now taking on Mamata Banerjee on a BJP ticket.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine