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City streets wear deserted look amid fear of clashes

City streets wear deserted look amid fear of clashes

Kolkata: Streets in the city emptied by early Thursday evening amid fear of clashes, as election trends poured in with the ruling Trinamool Congress and the surging BJP locked in a neck and neck battle for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal.

People reached the safety of their homes before the formal declaration of results, fearing violent fallout of the poll outcome amid a bitter election battle between the two parties, leaders of which were involved in a no-holds barred attack in a gruelling two-month long campaign.

"In a state where political clashes are the norm during election season, we thought it is better to go back home early to avoid being caught up in some untoward incident," said Moloy Banik, an employee of a private firm at Dalhousie in the heart of the city.

His colleague Raju Basu nodded in agreement as they hurried towards a bus stop near their office. Small crowds gathered at tea shops and local clubs in various localities of the city, discussing the incoming trends and possible results in a hushed voice. "We are not venturing far from our homes after sundown so that we can get back fast in case of any incident," said Manoj Roy, as he sipped tea with his friends at Lake Market area in the southern part of the city.

Stunned at the impending outcome of the elections, Trinamool Congress supporters were subdued in their celebrations though its candidates attained comfortable leads in the two Lok Sabha seats in the city - Kolkata South and Kolkata North. Party supremo Mamata Banerjee's residence at Kalighat and the TMC headquarter at Eastern Metropolitan Bypass also wore deserted looks.

In contrast, the BJP state headquarter in central Kolkata saw jubilant supporters distributing sweets and smearing each other with orange-coloured "gulal". An official of Kolkata Police said there was no report of any incident or commotion with regard to the election results till evening. Additional forces have been deployed in many areas to prevent any incident, he said.

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