West Bengal: Stray incidents of violence, rigging allegations reported in final phase of voting
Nine constituencies in the southern part of the state are voting on Sunday.
Stray incidents of violence broke out again in parts of West Bengal as nine constituencies in the southern part of the state went to vote in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections on Sunday. A total of 63.66% voter turnout was recorded till 4 pm.
There were reports of crude bombs being hurled in Deganga Assembly segment of North 24 Parganas district and Raidighi Assembly seat of South 24 Parganas district. Deganga is part of Barasat Lok Sabha constituency and Raidighi is located in Mathurapur constituency. Miscreants threw crude bombs at both these places on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, The Hindu reported. There was huge deployment of security forces following this.
Crude bombs were also found in two plastic containers in Newtown in Barasat Lok Sabha seat. A crude bomb exploded near Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral home in Kolkata. A quick response team was rushed to the spot, and voting was stopped for a while in booths near the area.
In Diamond Harbour constituency, the car of Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Nilanjan Roy was vandalised, ANI reported. Roy claimed that supporters of the Trinamool Congress were behind the attack.
“Bike-borne goons came and vandalised my car,” Roy said, according to the Hindustan Times. “We have informed the Election Commission and police about the incident. The EC has failed to utilise the police and security forces. The poll panel has become a mute spectator. I had told the police that trouble would take place here on polling day.”
In Jaynagar, Trinamool Congress workers allegedly beat up supporters of the BJP and vandalised their office, according to the Hindustan Times.
BJP state General Secretary Sayantan Basu claimed there was rigging in several areas and the party had filed about 150 complaints with the Election Commission within three hours. Basu is the BJP’s candidate in Basirhat constituency. Additional forces were sent at a polling station in Basirhat.
“There are a lot of allegations of muscle flexing and rigging in areas such as Sandeshkhali, Hingalganj and Baduria,” he claimed. “The inspector-in-charge of Shashan police station is virtually helping to rig in favour of the TMC.”
Anupam Hazra, the BJP’s candidate in Jadavpur, alleged that women Trinamool Congress workers were casting proxy votes, ANI reported. “When we raised objection to it, they created a ruckus at the polling station,” he said.
CPI(M)’s North Kolkata candidate Koninika Ghosh protested on a road after she claimed that three agents of her party were beaten up and driven out of polling booths.
BJP leader CK Bose alleged that on Saturday night his party workers were threatened by Trinamool Congress workers against sitting as booth agents for BJP. “There’s no difference between a terrorist organisation and Trinamool Congress,” ANI quoted Bose as saying.
Trinamool Congress leaders Madan Mitra and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar were seen in video clips arguing with security personnel at polling booths.
TMC alleges central forces torturing voters
The Trinamool Congress alleged that central security forces were “brutally torturing” and “intimidating” voters on orders of BJP leaders, PTI reported. “Even physically handicapped persons are being tortured,” said party leader Derek O’Brien. “Central forces are also threatening voters ‘kamal dabao nahin toh thok dega’ [vote for BJP or will shoot you].”
The BJP said the allegations were baseless and that goons supported by the Trinamool Congress were trying to intimidate voters.
BJP leader and Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman urged the Election Commission to order the central forces to remain in the state while the Model Code of Conduct is in place.
Nine Lok Sabha constituencies in the state are voting on Sunday. Violence has marred all six previous phases of polling. Election campaigning in the state has been fierce and shrill, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Modi frequently trading barbs at each other.