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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Assembly elections 2021 HIGHLIGHTS: Over 80% turnout in Bengal despite sporadic violence; Mamata, Suvendu claim victory in Nandigram

West Bengal, Assam Assembly Election 2021 Voting Phase 2 HIGHLIGHTS: West Bengal registered 80.43% voter turnout while Assam recorded 76.96% turnout.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 1, 2021 8:58:58 pm
Voters show their ID cards as they arrive to cast their votes during the second phase of West Bengal Assembly polls, in Nandigram, Thursday, April 1, 2021. (PTI Photo)

West Bengal, Assam Election 2021 HIGHLIGHTS: Despite reporting sporadic incidents of violence, the polling in the second phase of West Bengal Assembly elections remained high. The state registered 80.43% voter turnout while Assam recorded 76.96% turnout.

The hotly-contested Nandigram seat, which saw Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pitted against her former aide-turned-foe Suvendu Adhikari from BJP, saw sporadic incidents of violence and accusations of vote fraud and booth capturing were leveled by both the parties. Despite this, both Suvendu and Mamata were confident of their win from the seat.

Mamata visited several booths across the constituency as sporadic incidents of violence and allegations of booth jamming marred the voting process in the second phase. She slammed the Election Commission for “inaction” despite her party lodging several poll-related complaints and threatened to move the law courts over it.

Meanwhile, addressing a rally in Assam’s Kokrajhar on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the people of Assam have shown the “red card” to the Congress-led Grand Alliance in the state. He also accused the previous Congress governments of being a mute spectator to unbridled violence in the Bodo dominated areas of the state. “People of Assam have given their blessings to the NDA in first phase of assembly poll. Football is a popular sport in Assam. In football parlance, the people of Assam have shown the Congress-led alliance the red card,” he said addressing an election rally in Kokrajhar.

Live Blog

Assembly elections 2021 LIVE updates: Polling ends in phase-2 of elections in 69 seats across Bengal, Assam. Here are the HIGHLIGHTS.

20:53 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Polling was not disrupted at booth no. 7 in West Bengal's Nandigram: EC

The Election Commission (EC) cited the report of its general observer in West Bengal on Thursday to say voting was not disrupted at any moment at polling station number 7 in Nandigram, from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting.

In a statement, the commission said "many sections of media have been covering the incident of alleged gherao of Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal and crowding at Polling Station No. 7 at 210 Nandigram AC (assembly constituency) today that inter alia resulted in disruption of poll process".

It said general observer Hemen Das, an IAS officer, and police observer Ashutosh Roy (IPS) were asked to go to the spot immediately.

The panel said the general observer's report was received at 4.06 pm.

The statement quoted the report: "... Polling at PS no 7 (Boyal Moktab Primary School) is going on smoothly. Hon'ble CM, who is also a contesting candidate, has left the place at about 3.35 pm after staying here for nearly one and half hour. It may kindly be noted that polling was not disrupted at any moment. Till now, 702 votes, out of 943, have been polled. It is 74 per cent." (PTI)

20:42 (IST)01 Apr 2021
West Bengal: Stray violence mars second phase polling, Mamata flays EC over inaction to complaints

Heavy voter turnout amid sporadic incidents of violence marked the second phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal on Thursday, as Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee slammed the Election Commission (EC) over inaction to the complaints filed by her party.

Despite the deployment of heavy security along with Section 144 in place, stray incidents of violence were reported from West Bengal’s Nandigram seat –– where Banerjee is locked in a high-stakes contest against protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP –– that went to the polls along with 29 other constituencies. Read the full report here

19:35 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Stand vindicated on Nandigram's truth: CPI(M) after Mamata-Suvendu war of words on 2007 violence

Days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused her then confidant and present rival Suvendu Adhikari of being involved in the 2007 violence in Nandigram, the CPI(M) on Thursday said the remarks vindicated the party's stand and "exposed the truth about the incident" in which 14 people lost their lives.

Reacting to Banerjee's remarks, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the comments finally "vindicated" his party's stand on the incident that occurred more than a decade ago.

"From the right-wing RSS, the fundamentalist forces to the ultra-Left and the Maoists -- all ganged up, brought in illegal arms to create this unrest in Nandigram in 2007. Now, everything is exposed. Both Mamata and the Adhikaris have confirmed this.

"There are reports that Suvendu Adhikari has claimed Mamata knew the value of every bullet that was fired and the names of those on whom they were fired on. This is the fact, we had said it then and it was correct. The truth has been exposed but it took them more than 10 years to admit this," Yechury told PTI.

18:56 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Central forces helping BJP under instructions from Amit Shah: Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused the central forces deployed in her Nandigram constituency of helping the BJP under instructions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

She also alleged Election Commission was following the instructions of Shah and not acting on complaints of alleged irregularities lodged by her party.

Despite sporadic violence and accusations of vote fraud in Nandigram, the TMC supremo said she was confident of victory from the constituency where she had a decade-and-half ago led a farmers' movement against a chemical hub planned by the then Left front government.

"The CRPF, BSF are acting under the instructions of Home Minister Amit Shah....they are only helping the BJP," she told reporters outside a polling station in Nandigram constituency. (PTI)

18:33 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Tamil Nadu polls: M K Stalin holds a roadshow in Kolathur

DMK president M K Stalin holds a roadshow in Kolathur Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu from where he is seeking re-election.

18:10 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Voter turnout in West Bengal, Assam at 5:30 pm

73.03% and 80.43% voter turnout recorded till 6 pm in the second phase of polling in Assam and West Bengal, respectively: Election Commission of India

18:09 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Watch: BJP, TMC workers clash outside Nandigram poll booth on voting day

BJP, TMC workers clash outside a poll booth in the hotly-contested Nandigram seat on the voting day.

17:29 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Rahul Gandhi lambasts Modi for 'helping' corporates instead of empowering poor

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of 'helping' the big corporates instead of empowering the millions of poor in the country.

While campaigning for Congress candidates contesting in the April 6 polls from assembly seats falling in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, he said, "The Prime Minister believes if you inject money in the hands of the biggest businesses, you can start the economy. But all that happens is that those big corporates take that money away."

Addressing an election meeting in Kalpetta, the former Congress president claimed that his party has a solution to solve the problem of economic crisis. "To start Kerala's economy, we are proposing an idea called NYAY. It'll not only help poor people, it'll start Keralas economy and start production of jobs. NYAY is Rs 6000 a month into all of Kerala's poorest people's bank accounts", he said.

The Wayanad MP said his party believes that "if you want to start an economy you have to put money into poor people's hands, into the common man's hands into millions and millions of people's hands".

"If you want to start an economy, you want to create jobs, the first thing you have to do is inject money into the economy", he said. (PTI)

17:08 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Modi makes strong Hindutva pitch in Bengal, slams TMC over antipathy for "chotiwalas"

Making a strong Hindutva pitch at the hustings in West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday attacked TMC leaders for calling those wearing saffron, sporting tilak and choti as "rakshas", and declared he does not believe in "seasonal faith". He also said a BJP wave was blowing across West Bengal where the party will win over 200 of the state's 294 assembly seats.

"Earlier, Mamata Didi had issues with chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', over immersion of Durga idols. Now TMC has problems with people wearing saffron, sporting tilak and choti (tuft of hair), they are calling them 'rakshas' (demons)," Modi told an election rally in Joynagar.

He was referring to the recent public declaration by Banerjee of her "gotra" (clan), an unusual thing for the Bengal leader to do, during the campaigning for the Nandigram seat.

The revelation had prompted Union Minister Giriraj Singh, who sports a choti, to ask," Do you consider Rohingyas and other infiltrators as 'Shandilya' (Banerjee's gotra) and offer them the red carpet."

Singh's comment invited a sharp retort from TMC MP Mohua Moitra. "Giriraj says Mamata's from Rohingya clan. Proud of it. Far better than being from the chotiwala rakshasa clan," Moitra tweeted.

16:27 (IST)01 Apr 2021
UP Chief Minister attacks LDF and UDF for not bringing legislation against ‘Love Jihad’

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took potshots at his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, alleging his office was involved in the gold smuggling scam and attacked the two rival fronts–the ruling LDF and opposition UDF for not bringing in a legislation against ‘Love Jihad’.

Addressing a BJP campaign rally for the April 6 state Assembly polls at Haripad in Alappuzha district, Adityanath said the smuggling case was one of the most “shameful” incidents in India’s history.

Hitting out at the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF,Adityanath said both were not interested in implementing the anti-love Jihad law on the lines of the legislation brought in by his government. (PTI)

16:05 (IST)01 Apr 2021
EC issues notice to Himanta Biswa Sarma over ‘remarks’ against BPF leader Hagrama Mohilary

The Election Commission (EC) on Thursday issued a notice to BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly violating the model code of conduct by threatening Bodoland People’s Front leader Hagrama Mohilary, who is a part of the Opposition’s “grand alliance”.

The notice comes after the Congress, on March 30, wrote to the EC against the BJP leader for “openly threatening to send Hagrama Mohilary to jail”. “Sarma has sought to cast a malicious and malafide impression on the public at large, that on account of the undue strength of the BJP-led Central government manning the Central agencies, Sarma is in an undue position to control/ misuse the NIA and hence capable of sending Mohilary to jail. This is a clear message to the voters in order to influence them to not vote for INC alliance including the BPF by completely unconstitutional means and propaganda,” the party said, according to ANI. Read more

16:04 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Bengal polls: Mamata Banerejee dials Governor amid sporadic incidents of violence

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee speaks to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar over the phone at a polling booth in Nandigram. "...They didn't allow the local people to cast their vote. From morning I am campaigning...Now I am appealing to you, please see," she could be heard saying in the video.

15:52 (IST)01 Apr 2021
EC seeks report over violence during polling in Bengal's Nandigram

The Election Commission of India on Thursday sought a detailed report from the administration in connection with an incident of violence in Boyal area in Nandigram where Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee paid a visit to oversee the polling process.

The West Bengal chief minister visited several booths across the high-profile Nandigram constituency, where she is pitted against her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.

As soon as Banerjee reached Boyal, BJP supporters started chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans.

Supporters of the two parties then indulged in violence, as TMC leaders demanded re-polling in booth number 7, police said. Central forces tried to restore law and peace in the area. (PTI)

15:30 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Voter turnout in Assam, Bengal at 3 pm

At 3 pm, West Bengal has registered 69.24% voter turnout while Assam has recorded 62.42% turnout.

15:29 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Mamata slams EC for inaction on poll complaints, threatens to move court.

Amid incidents of stray violence in the high profile Nandigram constituency, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday slammed the Election Commission for "inaction" despite her party lodging several poll-related complaints and threatened to move the law courts over it.

"We have lodged 63 complaints since morning. But no action has been taken. We will move court over it. This is unacceptable," the chief minister said sitting in a wheelchair outside booth 7 in Boyal in Nandigram. "The EC is working on the instructions of Amit Shah,"  she alleged.

"Goons from other states creating ruckus here," she added. The TMC chief has been complaining for long alleging that her rivals have brought in goons from other states to intimidate voters. (PTI)

15:26 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Anti-EPS remarks: A Raja debarred from campaigning for 48 hours, delisted as star campaigner

Terming his remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palanisamy “obscene” and akin to “lowering the dignity of women”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) Thursday reprimanded senior DMK leader A Raja and barred him from campaigning for 48 hours. The EC also delisted his name from the list of star campaigners ahead of the assembly elections scheduled on April 6.

“The commission also advises you to be watchful and not to make intemperate, indecent, derogatory, obscene remarks and lower the dignity of women in future during the election campaign,” reads the ECI order dated April 1 and addressed to Raja. Following a complaint by the AIADMK over his remarks against Palanisamy, the EC had sent a notice to Raja on March 30. Read this report by Arun Janardhan

14:59 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Mamata slams EC for inaction on poll complaints, threatens to move court.

Amid incidents of stray violence in the high profile Nandigram constituency, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday slammed the Election Commission for "inaction" despite her party lodging several poll-related complaints and threatened to move the law courts over it.

"We have lodged 63 complaints since morning. But no action has been taken. We will move court over it. This is unacceptable," the chief minister said sitting in a wheelchair outside booth 7 in Boyal in Nandigram. "The EC is working on the instructions of Amit Shah,"  she alleged.

"Goons from other states creating ruckus here," she added. The TMC chief has been complaining for long alleging that her rivals have brought in goons from other states to intimidate voters.

Banerjee is pitted against her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who has crossed over to the BJP for the prestigious Nandigram constituency. (PTI)

13:41 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Mahua Moitra interview: ‘A party is in trouble when mass-scale defection of workers takes place. In Bengal, no cadre of TMC has shifted’
Mahua Moitra (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

In an interview to The Indian Express, Mahua Moitra said, "The Trinamool is very clear that this is a government of the people, for the people, by the people. It is the only government that can cater to the aspirations and dreams of all the people of Bengal. A government is not just for the top 5-10% of people. In West Bengal, where 80% of the population lives in villages, the economy is largely rural, it is important that development reaches the furthest villages and people get access to infrastructure, drinking water, schools, PDS. This is what this government has achieved. Mamata Banerjee, who has grown up in Bengal and fought and removed a regime (the Left Front), is the only person who can understand all of that and can cater to all of that. This is why we say Bangla nijer meyeke chay." Read the full interview here

13:36 (IST)01 Apr 2021
Bengal polls: BJP candidate's car vandalised, 3 held

BJP candidate from Keshpur assembly constituency Tanmay Ghosh's vehicle was on Thursday vandalised allegedly by supporters of the Trinamool Congress, police said. Three persons have been arrested in connection with the incident, they said.

An unidentified group of people attacked Ghosh's vehicle with bricks and bamboo sticks, and also vandalised cars of media personnel, a police officer said. A team of central forces have reached the spot, an Election Commission official said. The EC has also sought a report from the administration.

A TMC worker identified as Uttam Dolui was stabbed to death late last night in Keshpur area in Paschim Medinipur district, hours before polling started in the area. (PTI)

13:36 (IST)01 Apr 2021
EC issues show cause notice to BJP leader Sarma for remarks against Mohilary

The Election Commission on Thursday issued a show cause notice to Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly making threatening remarks against opposition leader Hagrama Mohilary of the Bodoland People's Front. He has been asked to respond to the notice by 5 pm on April 2. The Congress had approached the EC alleging that Sarma had threatened to send?Mohilary to jail by misusing the NIA. The Bodoland People's Front is an ally of the Congress in Assam. (PTI)

west bengal assembly elections, bengal elections voting, nandigram, nandigram elections, mamata banerjee, amit shah, suvendu adhikari, bengal elections news PM Modi at a rally in Kharagpur. (Photo: ANI)

The polling in West Bengal's eight-phase elections, including in the high-stakes Nandigram seat, recorded a high voter turnout of 37.4 per cent till 11 am. Though the situation was tense in a few areas with a few skirmishes reported, tight security cover in all 30 constituencies which went to polls averted any major incidents. In Assam, the situation was peaceful with a significant number of voters turning up during the morning hours to exercise their franchise in the 39 seats where voting was underway in the second phase on Thursday.

Both Assam and West Bengal witnessed intense campaigning by central leaders who have proposed lucrative projects and promises to deliver on the existing development schemes. While the central issue in the Bengal polls has been the "insider" versus "outsider" debate, elections in Assam have been centred on the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

While the BJP is banking on its development plank to return to power in Assam, its campaign in Bengal has been focused on attacking the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government over its alleged role in several corruption cases. All eyes will be on Nandigram where CM Mamata Banerjee is locked in a fierce prestige battle with confidante-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP when polling will be held in 30 seats in the second phase in Bengal.

In the first phase of voting on March 27, West Bengal and Assam had recorded 84.63% and 79.97% turnout, respectively.

In West Bengal, the elections are being conducted in eight phases. Unlike last time, the Election Commission is in charge of the state's security during the election time and has deployed several companies of central armed forces in the state.

All the booths where polling will be held in the second phase have been declared as "sensitive", PTI quoted the EC as saying. It will deploy a total 651 companies of Central Armed Police for this phase of election which will be held in Bankura (Part II), Purba Medinipur (Part II), Paschim Medinipur (Part II) and South 24 Parganas (Part I).

A total of 199 companies of CAPF will be deployed in Purba Medinipur, 210 companies in Paschim Medinipur, 170 in South 24 Parganas and 72 in Bankura.

The fate of 171 candidates will be decided in the second phase by 75,94,549 voters who will exercise their franchise in 10,620 polling booths spread across the 30 constituencies.

In Assam, the ruling BJP is contesting in 34 seats while its allies, the AGP and UPPL, are contesting in six and three seats, respectively. The saffron party will have a friendly contest with AGP and UPPL in two seats each.

The Congress is contesting in 27, its partners the AIUDF in eight and BPF in four. The newly formed Assam Jatiya Parishad is contesting in 17 seats.

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