Despite pre-poll transfers of police and administrative officials, the third phase of Lok Sabha elections witnessed several incidents of violence across the nine parliamentary constituencies, in four districts — Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and Birbhum.
In Howrah, poll agents of Left Front, Congress and BJP alleged that they had been stopped from entering the booths by Trinamool Congress cadres in places including Liluah, Shalimar, Amta, Jagadballavpur, Sankrail and Panchla. Although all polling stations in Birbhum had been marked sensitive, it was alleged that no CAPF jawans were seen at most polling stations.
In Burdwan, CPM leader Adhikram Sanyal had allegedly been attacked by TMC workers in front of Islabad High School. A TMC-CPI(M) clash at Kurul in Bhatar left several injured.
At Ketugram, bombs were hurled near booth numbers 42 and 44. At Mangalkot, the presiding officer had been allegedly ‘helping’ a voter. At Mayureshwar village in Birbhum, a mother-son duo was attacked for voting.
As a result, while the CPI(M), terming the poll process as a loot, demanded a repoll at 826 booths, the BJP said there should be a repoll in all the nine constituencies.
The chief electoral officer, Sunil Gupta, however, claimed that the poll process was overall peaceful.
“The poll had been overall peaceful, free and fair. All the complaints that had been received were promptly addressed and there were no major cases of violence,” he said.
Special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, on the other hand, said, “Polls had been free and fair. Though I can’t say peaceful or not. Since morning I have received at least 300 phone calls and over 150 SMSs. To the complainants, I had asked to specify their complaints with the name of the constituency and booth number. Most of them could not furnish those details but those who could, their complaints were immediately addressed.”