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Bengal Elections 2021 HIGHLIGHTS: 78% voter turnout in fifth phase amid sporadic incidents of violence

Election HIGHLIGHTS: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused CM Mamata Banerjee of trying to politicise the "unfortunate" death of five people at Sitalkuchi and asserted she, along with her nephew would be vanquished by the end of polling in the state.

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata, New Delhi |
Updated: April 17, 2021 10:41:59 pm
West Bengal assembly elections 2021, Mamata Banerjee, Amit Shah, Gorkha land, darjeeling, covid 29, Bengal Covid cases, bengal elections live updates, bengal 5th phase live updates, indian expressAmit Shah, Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi. (File Photo)

Assembly Elections 2021 HIGHLIGHTS: The fifth phase of polling in West Bengal concluded on Saturday as the state registered 78.36 per cent voter turnout. However, the day’s polling was marred by sporadic incidents of violence reported from Shantinagar area of Bidhannagar, Siliguri, and Bijpur in North 24 Parganas.

Congress leader P Chidambaram has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of showing “shocking callousness” by addressing rallies in West Bengal “instead of staying in Delhi” to handle the Covid pandemic situation, PTI reported.

A delegation of BJP leaders, led by senior leader Swapan Dasgupta, urged Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab to take note of a purported audio clip — in which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is heard proposing a rally with the bodies of Cooch Behar firing victims – as “such a move could lead to more tension” in the state amid the ongoing elections.

On the other hand, Mamata has alleged that her phone is being tapped and said she will order a CID probe into it. She also accused the BJP of being involved in the conspiracy as the saffron party “cannot match” the ruling Trinamool Congress’ campaigning on development programmes.

Live Blog

Polling ends in 45 Bengal constituencies in Phase 5; Voting spread in over 15,000 polling stations; strict Covid-19 protocols in place. Follow this space for the latest updates.

19:03 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Only BJP can only stop infiltration; Mamata's secularism fake: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday claimed that the BJP is the only political entity which can stop infiltration and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is concerned with "fake secularism".

Speaking at public rallies at Ausgram in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district and Chapra in Nadia district, the senior BJP leader alleged that infiltrators serve as the votebank of the TMC.

"The Congress, the Left parties and the Trinamool Congress will not be able to stop infiltration in West Bengal. The BJP is the only political party which can stop infiltration.

"Didi (Banerjee) is concerned with her fake secularism. She bothers only about her votebank," Shah said. (PTI)

17:47 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Voter turnout at 5 pm

At 5 pm, West Bengal has registered 78.36 per cent voter turnout.

17:14 (IST)17 Apr 2021
'Callousness' on PM's part to be addressing rallies in Bengal instead of fighting war against Covid: Congress

The Congress on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "shocking callousness" for addressing rallies in poll-bound West Bengal "instead of staying in Delhi" to handle the Covid pandemic situation.

Congress' senior spokesperson P Chidambaram said the prime minister should be at his job, sitting at his desk and coordinating with chief ministers in handling the Covid pandemic. "It is shocking callousness on the part of the prime minister to be addressing rallies in West Bengal, instead of staying in Delhi and handling the situation. He should be there in Delhi fighting the war instead," he told reporters at a press conference.

"I hope the people of West Bengal will take note of this and give him a shocking reply," Chidambaram said in response to a question.

"He (PM) should be at his job, at his desk, taking decisions and coordinating with state governments and reassuring chief ministers that their demands on vaccines, oxygen and ventilators would be met. This is the prime minister's job today," he said. (PTI)

16:26 (IST)17 Apr 2021
TMC broken, Mamata Banerjee playing politics with the dead: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday claimed that the TMC has been broken in the first four phases of elections, and asserted that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew would be vanquished by the end of polling in the state.

Speaking at an election rally here, in the sprawling industrial town of Asansol, Modi also claimed the Trinamool Congress supremo has an old habit of doing politics with dead bodies and has been trying to politicise the "unfortunate" death of five people at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district on April 10.

Modi later contended at a rally at Gangarampur in Dakshin Dinajpur, that Banerjee has been abusing him almost every other day as he raises questions on Trinamool Congresss track record of "corruption".

"After four phases, TMC is broken to pieces and `Didi, `bhatija will be vanquished after eight phases of elections (are completed)," Modi said at Asansol. Polling is scheduled in the industrial town in the seventh phase on April 26. (PTI)

15:46 (IST)17 Apr 2021
TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty casts her vote in Jalpaiguri

TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty casts her vote at a polling booth in Jalpaiguri, in the fifth phase.

15:28 (IST)17 Apr 2021
My phone is being tapped, will order CID probe: Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that her phone is being tapped and said she will order a CID probe into it. Addressing an election rally here, she accused the BJP of being involved in the conspiracy as the saffron party "cannot match" the ruling Trinamool Congress' campaigning on development programmes.

"They (BJP leaders) are even eavesdropping on our everyday conversation. It seems they are tapping our phone calls on cooking and other household chores.

"I will order a CID probe into the issue. I will not spare anyone involved in such snooping activities. I have already come to know who is behind this," the TMC supremo said.

Banerjee also claimed she has information that the "central forces are being involved in such acts with some agents". "It is clear that the BJP is behind it though they claimed they have no role in it," she said. (PTI)

15:27 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Voter turnout at 3 pm

At 3 pm, West Bengal has registered 68.33 per cent voter turnout.

14:48 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Bengal: Glimpses from the 5th phase of polling

Take a look at the photos from ground by Express photojournalist Shashi Ghosh as polling takes place in Bengal for phase 5.

13:07 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Bengal: Over 36 per cent turnout till 11 am

West Bengal on Saturday recorded 36.02  per cent voter turnout recorded till 11 am in 45 seats where polling is underway for fifth phase.

13:03 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Where all violence broke out in Bengal's phase 5 polling

  • In the Shantinagar area of Bidhanagar, a clash broke out between TMC and BJP supporters with both sides accusing each other of stopping the voters from going to the polling booths.
  • Bricks and stones were hurled, injuring eight people, officials said.
  • In Siliguri, a scuffle broke out between TMC and CPI (M) supporters outside a polling booth.
  • In Santipur in the Nadia district, the TMC alleged that personnel of the central forces were asking voters to go back, a charge rubbished by the authorities.
  • In Bijpur in North 24 Parganas, TMC and BJP supporters clashed after the opposition party alleged that voters were being prevented from going to the booths.

12:57 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Bengal: Few incidents of violence reported during phase 5

As fifth phase of polling in West bengal is underway, sporadic incidents of violence were reported on Saturday from some areas, officials said. The security personnel continue to maintain a tight vigil and they have addressed a few incidents that were reported, an official at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.

11:32 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Over 16 per cent voter turnout till 9 am

West Bengal on Saturday recorded 16.15 per cent voter turnout recorded till 9 am in 45 seats where polling is underway for fifth phase.

10:28 (IST)17 Apr 2021
PM Modi urges voters to turn up in large numbers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday appealed to Bengal voters to vote in large numbers in the state’s fifth phase of elections. Taking to Twitter, Modi said, “Urging all those voting in today's fifth phase of the West Bengal elections to vote in large numbers. First time voters in particular should exercise their franchise.”

10:23 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Voting underway for bypolls to 1 Lok Sabha, 2 assembly seats in K'taka

Voting is underway for by-election to Belgaum Lok Sabha and Maski and Basavakalyan assembly segments in Karnataka on Saturday, poll officials said. A total of 22,68,038 voters (including service voters) are eligible to cast their votes at 3,197 polling stations in the three constituencies where voting began at 7 am and will go on till 7 pm. Among voters from all the three segments, over 11.37 lakh are men and over 11.22 lakh are women. 

Bypolls are being held by following the strict COVID-19 protocols, especially social distancing, wearing masks, using hand sanitisers among others, officials said, adding the last hour is reserved for coronavirus positive patients or those with symptoms. (PTI)

10:21 (IST)17 Apr 2021
BJP to meet EC over Cooch Behar violence in Kolkata today

BJP is set to meet the Election Commission on Saturday in Kolkata over election violence in Cooch Behar. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s purported audio clip over Sitalkuchi will also be discussed, news agency ANI said.

09:29 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Tamil Nadu: Re-polling underway at Velachery constituency

Re-polling is underway at Tamil Nadu's booth no 92 in Velachery constituency on the basis of a report submitted by returning officers and observers after two men were found carrying EVM machines on April 6.

09:24 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Voting underway in Bengal for Phase 5

07:45 (IST)17 Apr 2021
Polling begins for 45 Bengal constituencies in phase 5

Polling began Saturday morning in 45 Bengal constituencies in the fifth phase of Bengal elections. Over 1 crore voters are set to decide the fate of 342 candidates.

People at a poll BJP rally in West Bengal.

Safety and security arangements

After violence marred the fourth phase, which witnessed five deaths, including four in firing by CISF, security measures have been beefed up for this phase. According to the Election Commission (EC) at least 853 companies of central forces will be deployed to ensure free and fair voting. Apart from this, measures to ensure strict adherence of coronavirus protocols during the voting process will also be in place, an officer in the poll panel said.

Looking at the Covid-19 situation, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had Thursday urged the EC to consider conducting the polls in the remaining constituencies at one go. However, the EC on Friday clarified there will not be any rescheduling of the elections. "This meeting was not called to discuss rescheduling, though we had a request from one political party on that. (However) no decision was taken to reschedule the remaining three phases of polling," news agency PTI quoted a senior EC officer as saying.

Key players, parties

Prominent faces fighting it out in the fifth phase include Siliguri Mayor and Left Front leader Ashok Bhattacharya, TMC ministers Gautam Deb and Bratya Basu and BJP's Samik Bhattacharya.

The phase is crucial as the Trinamool Congress looks forward to better its 2016 tally of 32 seats, and a resurgent BJP aims at making clear inroads. The Left-Congress alliance, which had bagged 10 seats in the assembly elections five years ago, are putting up a fight to make a mark this time.

With the EC extending the 'silence period' from 48 to 72 hours in view of the Cooch Behar violence in fourth phase, campaigning for the fifth phase ended on Wednesday.

Campaigning

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee held several rallies and roadshows in most of the seats going to the polls this phase, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah who led the campaign of BJP, which has emerged as the key contender of TMC this election. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too held two public meetings in north Bengal.

Addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling district, Amit Shah said his party would try to find a “permanent political solution” for the Gorkhas in Darjeeling hills once it comes to power in West Bengal. “Today, I promise that a permanent political solution to the Gorkha problem will be reached by the double-engine government of the BJP, which means a BJP government at the Centre and another one in Bengal. You will not have to resort to agitations anymore.”

It has been a longstanding demand of the Gorkhas living in Darjeeling district to have a separate state of ‘Gorkhaland’. In 2017, violent agitations were held in Darjeeling after the Mamata Banerjee government tried to impose Bengali language on Gorkhas.

While speaking to party workers in Kalimpong in north Bengal, Shah even assured that the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) would have no impact on Gorkhas. "Whenever it is done, not a single Gorkha will be asked to leave. The TMC is lying about the possible fallout of NRC on Gorkhas. This is being done to create fear among them,” alleged Shah.

(With inputs from PTI)

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