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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Assembly elections wrap: TMC accuses BJP of attacking party candidate; Kanimozhi votes in PPE suit; and more

The final polling percentage recorded in the following states is — Assam (82.33%), Kerala (70.29%), Tamil Nadu (65.19%), West Bengal (77.68%), and Puducherry (78.90%).

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 6, 2021 9:54:00 pm
ElectionPeople queue up to vote at the Diamond Harbour constituency in West Bengal. (Express photo by Shashi Ghosh)

Voting for more than 750 constituencies spread across four states and one union territory was held on Tuesday. The final polling percentage recorded in the following states is — Assam: 82.33%; Kerala: 70.29%; Tamil Nadu: 65.19%; West Bengal: 77.68%; and Puducherry: 78.90%. With this, the polling exercise is now over in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Five more phases of election are, however, still left in West Bengal.

While the third phase of polls in Bengal was marred by incidents of violence, Sabarimala dominated the discourse on poll day in Kerala. Meanwhile. DMK MP Kanimozhi, who is Covid-19 positive, turned up to vote wearing a PPE suit in Chennai.

Here are the important poll-related updates that you need to know today:

Stray incidents of violence reported in West Bengal

Five candidates, including two women, were assaulted while clashes between rival political groups erupted in many places.

TMC accused the BJP workers of chasing and hurting party leader Sujata Mondal near a polling booth and urged the Election Commission to take cognisance of the issue.

In a video released by the party on its official Twitter handle, Mondal, who is TMC’s candidate in Arambagh, could be seen being escorted to safety by her security team as a group of men carrying lathis and stones approach her. The men are also seen throwing stones at Mondal in the video. Mondal is the wife of BJP leader Saumitra Khan. She is fighting on a TMC ticket in Arambagh against BJP’s Madhusudhan Bag.

Meanwhile, a polling official was suspended on Tuesday after he was found at a TMC leader’s house with four EVM and VVPAT machines.

The EVM and VVPAT were not being used for the elections on Tuesday, the Election Commission said. Tapan Sarkar, the deputed officer for Howrah’s Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar, was found to have taken the EVM and VVPAT machines to his politician-relative’s home.

A senior official said the incident, which happened in Tulsiberia village in the Uluberia Uttar assembly constituency, came to light when villagers spotted a vehicle with an Election Commission sticker outside the house of the TMC leader and started protesting.

However, despite the violence, voter enthusiasm was high with 77.68 per cent of voters casting their ballots till 5 pm, two hours before polling ended.

Voting in 16 seats in South 24 Parganas district (part II), saw 76.68 per cent votes being cast by 5 pm. While 77.93 per cent votes were cast in seven seats in Howrah (part I) and 79.36 per cent in eight in Hooghly (part I), they added.

Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee alleged “blatant misuse” of central forces to “influence voters”.

“The blatant misuse of Central forces continues unabated. Despite us repeatedly raising this issue, @ECISVEEP continues to be a mute spectator, while men in uniform are being misused at several places to openly intimidate TMC voters and influence many to vote in favour of one party,” she tweeted.

Clashes and lathicharge reported from Assam’s Golakganj

The third and last phase of the state election in Assam was largely peaceful despite sporadic incidents of violence and disturbances in some areas.

There were reports of a clash between two groups of people over some issues at a polling station at Dighaltari lower primary school at Golakganj. Police resorted to lathicharge and firing in the air to control the situation but none was injured, an official said. The polling at the booth was stopped for a brief period and resumed soon, he said.

At a booth at Gutipara in Bilasipara West constituency security personnel were attacked by a group of people over distribution of free masks. Here too the police resorted to lathicharge when the attackers threw stones at the polling station.

As a result, voting at the polling station was interrupted for about half-an-hour but later resumed normally, officials said.

In a polling booth in Bongaigaon, there was lathicharge by the police when a huge crowd arrived, an official of the force said.

Another polling station in the same constituency witnessed commotion when the presiding officer went to help a differently abled person to cast his vote. The situation was brought under control immediately by the police, an election official said.

In another incident, police detained at least two persons from a polling booth at Kamrup Academy Higher Secondary School in Guwahati for allegedly distributing BJP pamphlets carrying minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya’s pictures.

Around 10 people have been detained from different parts of the state, officials said.

Sabarimala issue dominates discourse in Kerala  

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at the Sabarimala, and all other gods are with the LDF government which has worked for the welfare of people.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala in his reaction said the Left government would surely face the wrath of Lord Ayyappa and his devotees in this election.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan casts his vote. (Express photo by Sanjay Mohan)

Lashing out at Vijayan, BJP state president K Surendran said what the CM had done in Sabarimala three years ago was the ‘act of demon’ and people of the state would never forget his “wicked deeds”.

Minor incidents of violence were reported from across Kerala on Tuesday. Two voters, including a woman, standing in the queue in Aranmula in Pathnamthitta and Chavittuavary in Kottayam collapsed and died. PTI reported. 

Tempers ran high at Kattayikonam in Kazhakootam constituency, a stronghold of the Marxist party in Thiruvananthapuram district, where CPI(M) and BJP workers clashed. Four BJP workers were injured and their car was damaged.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who is the LDF candidate from the constituency, told reporters that the aim of the protesters was to disrupt the voting procedure and alleged that police had acted as “BJP agent”.

Three Marxist workers, including the minister’s personal staff, were taken into custody.

He said the BJP workers had reached Kattayikonam in two cars and allegedly attacked CPI(M) workers including a ward councillor and that he would file a complaint before the Election Commission and the DGP.

Sobha Surendran, the BJP candidate from Kazhakootam constitutency, had earlier in the day held a sit-in protest in front of a polling booth in the area.

Kanimozhi comes to vote in a PPE kit

DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi, who is being treated for COVID-19, on Tuesday voted at a polling station here while wearing the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit. Also, a number of others being treated for the virus voted here and in other parts of Tamil Nadu.

Kanimozhi, also DMK’s women’s wing secretary, arrived in an ambulance from the hospital where she is being treated for the infection.

Ahead of the arrival of people infected with the coronavirus, all personnel in polling stations donned the PPE kits and facilitated their voting. The premises were sanitised later.

Celebrities like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan were among the early voters and actor Vijay rode a bicycle to the polling booth leading to speculation by social media users who asked if it was a subtle ‘sign’ of opposition to rise in fuel prices.

His publicist clarified that the star did so in view of car parking problems in the small street where the polling booth was located

Over 78% polling recorded in Puducherry

Official sources said that 78.90% per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in Puducherry.

Yanam, where the AINRC leader N Rangasamy is contesting, registered a higher percentage of polling than the other three regions from the beginning.

Rangasamy is seeking election to the territorial Assembly from Thattanchavady segment in Puducherry.

The UT is witnessing a keen contest between the AINRC-led NDA and the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance.

(With inputs from PTI)

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