West Bengal elections: Trinamool Congress, BJP supporters clash in Nandigram, EC seeks report
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, who was visiting Boyal area in the district, had to stay inside a polling booth for over two hours because of the clash.
A clash broke out on Thursday between supporters of the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party outside a polling booth in West Bengal’s Nandigram district, the high-profile constituency that is voting in the second phase of the state’s Assembly election, PTI reported. The Election Commission sought a report about the incident from the local administration.
However, after voting concluded, Election Commission said that General Observer Hemen Das, who was sent to the Boyal booth on the basis of media coverage, said in his report that polling was not disrupted at any moment, ANI reported. The poll body also said that a separate complaint filed on the matter by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had been forwarded to the special general observer and special police observer. They have been asked to send a report on the incident by 6 pm on Friday, the Election Commission said.
Tensions erupted on Thursday morning while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was visiting Boyal area, NDTV reported. She came to Boyal to take stock of the situation, after leaders of her party alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was capturing booths and indulging in rigging.
Banerjee alleged that the polling agent from Trinamool Congress was not allowed inside the booth, according to the news channel. Suddenly, some people, reported to be BJP supporters, began shouting “Jai Shri Ram”. Soon, supporters of the Trinamool Congress gathered at the spot. Then, a clash erupted between the two groups.
The West Bengal chief minister had to stay inside the polling booth for more than two hours as the two groups clashed, NDTV reported. She had to be escorted out by the police and central forces.
From the polling booth, Banerjee made a call to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to inform him about the situation. “Anything might happen at any moment,” she told Dhankhar, according to NDTV. “There is total breakdown of law and order.” The chief minister added that she feared for her life.
After the phone call, Dhankhar tweeted: “Issues flagged by Mamata Banerjee have been imparted to the concerned. There is full assurance of the concerned to adherence to rule of law.”
Banerjee also accused the Election Commission of not taking any action even though her party lodged 63 complaints with the poll body, ANI reported. She however expressed confidence about winning and claimed that Trinamool Congress will get 90% of the votes in Nandigram.
“I am not worried about Nandigram, but I am worried about democracy,” she said, according to ANI. “...I will win Nandigram with the blessings of ‘Maa Maati Manush’ [mother, land and people]. Whatever you [Election Commission] try, BJP will not win.”
She also showed the ‘victory’ sign and asked Election Commission and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to “control their goons”.
Meanwhile, her former aide and rival in the Nandigram constituency, Suvendu Adhikari told reporters Banerjee was doing “drama” and accused her of stalling voting for two hours at the booth, ANI reported.
“Around 90% of voting has happened in Nandigram but it is only 78% at this booth,” Adhikari claimed. “... Voting is going on peacefully here. There is no issue.”
He too claimed victory in the constituency and said that Banerjee had no support.
Modi asks Mamata Banerjee if she will file nomination from another constituency
While addressing a rally in Uluberia in Howrah on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Banerjee if there was any truth to the rumour that she would file her nomination from another constituency, ANI reported.
“First you went there [to Nandigram] and the people gave you an answer,” Modi said. “If you go somewhere else, people of Bengal are ready [to give you an answer].”
The prime minister claimed that the people had decided that Banerjee must not remain in power. “The people of Nandigram have fulfilled this dream today,” he added. “People cannot wait any longer to save their future and identity. They are not just participating in polling, they are paving the way for a renaissance in Bengal.”