Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Union minister Babul Supriyo’s car was vandalised during a clash between Trinamool Congress workers and security forces outside a polling booth in Asansol, West Bengal, on Monday, ANI reported.
In another incident in Dubrajpur area of Birbhum constituency, security personnel opened fire at a polling booth to control a mob after voters got into a scuffle with central forces. The voters said they were prevented from entering the polling booth with their mobile phones. Polling had to be stopped at the booth briefly.
The two constituencies are among eight in West Bengal where an electorate of over 1.34 crore is voting for 68 candidates in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday. The other six seats are Baharampur, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, Burdwan East, Burdwan-Durgapur and Bolpur.
In Asansol, the clash broke out after Trinamool Congress workers insisted that voting continue despite the absence of central forces at the polling booth. Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) opposed this, according to NDTV. Clashes were reported outside booths 125 to 129 and 199 in Asansol, ANI reported.
Supriyo, the sitting MP and BJP’s candidate from Asansol, said people in West Bengal were aware that central forces were not stationed at the polling booth and that they wanted security personnel present there to cast their vote. “I will myself take the central forces to that polling station,” ANI quoted him as saying. “Mamata Banerjee is scared of democracy, that’s why this is happening,” he said, according to NDTV.
Supriyo is contesting against the CPI(M)’s Gouranga Chatterjee, Trinamool’s actor-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen and Congress’ Biswarup Mondal. Supriyo also tweeted claims of vandalism and booth capturing at some places.
Villagers boycotted polls at polling booth numbers 222 and 226 in Jemua of Bardhaman constituency as central forces were not present, ANI reported. Voting has been suspended at the polling station as voters reportedly staged a protest.
Clashes also took place between workers of the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party in Nanoor under Birbhum, reported India Today. The villagers had reportedly alleged that Trinamool Congress workers were threatening them. Violence was reported in Rampurhat, Nalhati and Siuri areas of Birbhum constituency, PTI reported. There were clashes in Jemua and Barabani areas of Bardhaman East constituency, a polling official said.
However, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab claimed that barring “sporadic incidents”, the polling in West Bengal was, by and large, “peaceful”. “Immediate necessary action was initiated at places from where we got complaints,” Aftab said, according to PTI.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission issued a show cause notice to Birbhum BJP candidate Dudh Kumar Mondal for talking on his phone inside the polling booth before casting his vote. The presiding officer of the booth has been sacked.
The poll panel has deployed 580 companies of central forces to maintain law and order at over 98% of booths in the state.