Polling is under way in Bengal Assembly election amid violence and allegation of intimidation . A CPIM worker was killed in the morning when Trinamool Congress worker hurled bomb at a polling booth. Amidst the sporadic violence, over 57 percent votes were cast in 62 constituencies during the first six hours on Thursday in the third phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections.
In the third phase people are voting in 62 constituencies spread over four districts.
Over 1.37 crore electorate will decide the fate of 418 candidates, including 34 women, in 62 seats spread across Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan districts and north Kolkata. 80 candidates face criminal cases against them.
Election Commission officials have so far received over 1,500 complaints, including those of violence, voter intimidation and disruption of the poll process. At least 47 people were held in the metropolis itself.
“Till 1 p.m., overall 57.21 percent polling was recorded. The turnout in Murshidabad was 58.06 percent, Nadia 60.07 percent, Burdwan 58.74 percent and Kolkata 44.14 percent,” an EC official said.
Sahidul Islam, was killed in Domkal, Murshidabad by bombs and bullets allegedly fired by ruling Trinamool Congress supporters.
Besides, at least four others were attacked in Domkal allegedly for casting their votes.
“Last night, some people threatened me not to vote but I chose to ignore that. When I was returning after casting my vote, I was attacked,” said one of the injured who was admitted to a hospital.
Whistle-blower former Indian Police Service officer Nazrul Islam, who too is contesting from Domkal, accused the EC of being “intentionally incompetent”.
“The EC has chosen to be intentionally incompetent; the reason being a tacit understanding between the ruling parties at the Centre (BJP) and the state (Trinamool),” added Islam, a candidate of the Mulnibasi Party floated by him.
Congress state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that central security forces were “absent” in many places in Murshidabad and said complaints to the EC have been made about the “district administration’s biased role towards the Trinamool”.
Reports of violence were also received from Ketugram in Burdwan district where three people were injured after crude bombs were thrown near a polling booth.
Several crude bombs were also seized from near a booth at Saguna in Nadia district.
Voters in Chakdaha in Nadia district alleged they were “prevented from voting by Trinamool goons”.
At least four people were injured in Mangalkote of Burdwan with Trinamool’s Siddiqullah Chowdhury accusing the CPI(M) for the attack.
“CPI(M) goons are behind this attack. Four of our party activists have been hospitalised with serious injuries. We demand immediate arrests of all the culprits,” Chowdhury said and threatened protest until his demands were met.
Complaints of voter intimidation and scuffles between rival political activists were also received from several booths in city, including Beliaghta and Entally. A mediaperson was among the injured.
At least 47 people have been arrested from the city,” said a Kolkata police officer.
Both the CPI(M) and the Congress alleged their polling agents were assaulted and driven out in several booths. Booth-capturing and voter intimidation took place in a number of areas, they said.
A total of 1,37,42,000 voters, of them 65,79,218 women are exercising their franchise in 16,461 polling stations. The polling started at 7 am and it will continue till 6 pm in the evening.
Trinamool Congress, Left-Congress alliance and BJP have put up a fight in all the seats. Key contestants in this phase include Trinamool Congress ministers Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, five-time Congress legislator Md Sohrab, CPI(M) legislator Anisur Rahman and retired IPS officer Nazrul Islam.
One lakh security personnel have been deployed for the third phase of polls in different constituencies. Around 75,000 central armed police forces and 25,000 state police officers are monitoring the areas.
In 2011, TMC won 28 of the 62 seats which are going to the polls on Thursday. While it drew a blank in Murshidabad, it won 13 out of 17 seats in Nadia, won all seven seats in Kolkata and won eight out of the 16 seats in Burdwan. The Left won seven out of 22 seats in Murshidabad and fared reasonably well, winning seven seats in Burdwan. Congress did well in its stronghold of Murshidabad under Adhir Chowdhury, claiming 15 of the available 22 seats. TMC and Congress were allies at the time.
Polling for the remaining phases will be held on April 25, 30 and May 5. The counting of the votes will be on May 19