Bengal sees over 80% turnout despite sporadic violence
Kolkata: Barring a few stray incidents, the second phase of elections spanning across 30 Assembly constituencies in four districts covering 10,620 polling stations passed off peacefully. The Election Commission (EC) announced that the overall voting percentage till 5 pm was 80.43 per cent.
As many as 171 candidates from different political parties were in the fray during the second phase of polls that covered parts of nine Assembly constituencies each in East Midnapore and West Midnapore, eight in Bankura and four in South 24-Parganas.
At 82.92 per cent, Bankura reported the highest voting percentage followed by 81.23 in East Midnapore, 79.65 in South 24-Parganas and 78.02 per cent in West Midnapore.
Nandigram, where TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is pitted against BJP's Suvendu Adhikari, witnessed a high percentage of 80.79 per cent.
State Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab said 29,679 voters in the second phase have cast their votes through postal ballots that include 24,437 voters above 80 years of age and 5,242 disabled electorates.
Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee who is contesting from Nandigram alleged irregularities with the polling process at Boyal and said she would seek legal recourse on the issue. Banerjee said her party's polling agent was being prevented from entering the booth and alleged that 80 per cent votes have been rigged by the BJP. She said the outsiders were trying to create trouble and the Central forces were protecting them under instructions from the Union Home ministry.
According to reports available with the Commission, a Trinamool Congress worker Uttam Dolui (48) was allegedly hacked to death by about 10-15 persons inside a club at Hariharpur in Keshpur hours before the polls began. A murder case was initiated at Keshpur police station and the cops arrested eight persons in connection with the incident.
In another incident at Keshpur, an unidentified group of people allegedly attacked BJP candidate Pritish Ranjan Kuar's vehicle in which five persons, including the candidate, received minor injuries. Vehicles of media persons were also vandalised with bricks and bamboo sticks in Keshpur at around noon. 20 persons were arrested in connection with these incidents.
Later in the day, the election agent of Trinamool Congress candidate in Keshpur, Siuli Saha was allegedly assaulted by BJP-backed miscreants. The agent, Habibur Rahman, was allegedly assaulted in front of a booth at Saldiha. He was rushed to a local hospital from where he was shifted to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital when his condition deteriorated.
BJP worker Uday Dubey was found hanging at his residence at Bhekutia in Nandigram early on Thursday morning. Prima facie investigation by the police has revealed that it was a case of death by suicide.
Trinamool Congress candidate in Chandipur Soham Chakraborty was also allegedly harassed by BJP workers in Kadua area.
TMC also alleged ransacking of their booth-level agent's house and intimidation at Bagcha in East Midnapore's Moyna.
TMC lodged an official complaint with the state CEO office alleging a number of booth captures by BJP at Moyna.
There were allegations from Chaukhali in Chandipur too where it was alleged that TMC votes were going to the BJP.
"We will be deploying Central forces in the places where elections were held on Thursday to address issues of post-poll violence if any," a senior official in the CEO office said.
Problems related to webcasting were also reported in a good number of booths in Nandigram as well as from other places. Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain who is in charge of Bengal has sought a report related to the issue of webcasting.