Sporadic incidents of violence and alleged electoral malpractices by Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers were reported from seven civic bodies that saw polling on Sunday. Elections were held in Durgapur Municipal Corporation, Dhupguri Municipality, Buniadpur Municipality, Coopers’ Camp Notified Area, Nalhati Municipality, Panskura Municipality and Haldia Municipality Sunday. Municipal byelections were held for two wards in Champdani Municipal ity (ward no. 12) and Jhargram Municipality (ward no. 7).
While opposition parties alleged polls were marred by violence, State Election Commissi-oner A K Singh told reporters: “Barring two wards (13 and 34) of Durgapur Municipal Corporation, polling was peaceful. In one incident, two policemen were injured. Repoll has been ordered in one booth of Panskura Municipality (booth no. 45 in ward 13) as EVM was damaged.”
The BJP, Left Front and Congress accused TMC of “turning the polls into a farce with the help of state police”. BJP alleged that TMC workers captured booths in Durgapur Municipal Corporation and attacked its candidates. “TMC workers have captured booths in wards 1, 3, 4, 11, 15, 18, 21 and 23 in Durgapur. Our candidates have been attacked in wards 4, 15, 18, 21 and 23. We strongly condemn this. We are also getting reports of violence from Haldia municipality,” BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu told The Indian Express. The BJP and Left Front demanded repoll in all booths of the Haldia Municipality and delegations from both parties submitted deputations to the SDO in this regard.
However, TMC leader and state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari denied the allegations. “The Opposition is saying all this because they have lost support of people. Elections are being held peacefully in the state,” he said.
In Durgapur Municipal Corporation area, two policemen sustained injuries after a mob allegedly pelted stones at them. Three motorbikes were set on fire by the mob and one of the agitators snatched a rifle from a policemen, said sources. Later, a huge contingent of police was deployed in the area to take the situation under control. According to a senior police officer of Durgapur, arms were recovered from the area. “Later we also recovered the lost rifle,” the officer added.
TMC leader and state Minister Aroop Biswas said BJP had brought “outsiders” to Durgapur area to create an “atmosphere of terror” on polling day. “BJP brought outsiders from Bihar and Jharkhand to foment trouble. However, the people have foiled such attempts,” Biswas said.
Alleging booth capturing and rigging by TMC workers, the Congress withdrew all its seven candidates from Durgapur Municipal Corporation (DMC) election. The BJP and Left Front workers blocked a road to protest “ruling party-orchestrated” violence in ward no. 13 of DMC. The Left Front alleged rigging by TMC at booth no. 35 in ward 11 of Panskura Municipality. EVMs were destroyed in booth no. 45 in ward 13 of Panskura Municipality.
There were reports of TMC workers allegedly beating up a presiding officer and polling officer in Nalhati Municipality of Birbhum. In Buniadpur Municip ality, BJP candidates alleged they were attacked by TMC “goons”.
There were also reports that a TMC worker was thrashed by an independent candidate in one of the wards in Coopers’ Camp Notified Area in Nadia district. Unconfirmed reports also said that shots were fired in DMC area. However, it was unclear who fired the shots. Counting of votes will be held on August 17.