Violence mars Bengal civic polls; over 70% cast votes

Violence mars Bengal civic polls; over 70% cast votes
“The voter turnout till 5 pm in Bidhanngar and Asansol was 71 <g data-gr-id="56">per cent</g>. We have received complaints of violence, rigging and malpractices from both places. We are looking into those complaints and will decide the course of action,” State Election Commissioner S R <g data-gr-id="57">Upadhaya</g> said.

The election to Bally under Howrah Municipal Corporation and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad passed off peacefully, he said.

Polls were also held for the 16 wards of the erstwhile Bally municipality which <g data-gr-id="54">has</g> now been merged with Howrah Municipal Corporation. Besides, by-polls are on for some rural body seats - two <g data-gr-id="61">zilla</g> <g data-gr-id="62">parishads</g>, 72 panchayat <g data-gr-id="63">samitis</g> and 341 gram panchayats. The results will be announced on October 16.

Upadhaya also said that the SEC had received numerous complaints about malpractices, rigging and violence.

“We have received complaints of rigging and violence both from political parties and individuals. In some <g data-gr-id="71">places</g> media personnel were also attacked, we have seen the video footages. We have asked the police to take <g data-gr-id="70">necessary</g> action,” he said.

When asked whether the SEC would toy with the idea of re-polling in various wards where there have been allegations of malpractices, Upadhaya said, “These are allegations. It needs to be backed up by evidence that there have been malpractices. Then only we can take an action and prepare <g data-gr-id="69">report</g>.” 

Senior officials of SEC and state police said there were reports of outsiders trying to jam booths in various wards of Bidhannagar and Asansol municipal corporations.

“There were reports of bombs being hurled in Jamuria and Bidhanagar and people being stopped from casting their votes. We are taking stock of the <g data-gr-id="52">stutation</g>,” an official said.

Rubbishing opposition allegations that ruling Trinamool Congress had used outsiders to unleash violence in Bidhannagar and Asansol, senior party leader and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said “The opposition parties have tried to create violence during the elections. As the ruling <g data-gr-id="66">party</g> why should we create violence? We want to categorically state that in Bengal rule of the law has been established under Mamata Banerjee.

“As ruling party we will never want any breach of peace,” Chatterjee, also TMC secretary general, said and accused CPI(M) of trying to create disturbance during the polls.

Several journalists of various media houses were assaulted while covering the elections in the 

Asked about it, Chatterjee condemned it and said “We feel that whoever has done this is wrong. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inquired into the incident. Those responsible for the attacks would be identified and the administration will deal with them.” 

Police said a few motorcycles were burnt during a clash between supporters of two political parties at VIP Road during the polling.

Senior CPI-M leader Gautam Deb announced that the Left Front has called a 12-hour bandh at Rajarhat-Bidhannagar area on Monday in protest against the alleged malpractices and violence.

He said besides the <g data-gr-id="51">bandh</g>, Left Front would hold rallies and demonstrations across the state on Monday in protest against the alleged rigging at several wards. Votes for the civic polls will be counted on October seven.

Nandini Guha

Nandini Guha

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