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Bengal assembly elections: Over 78% turnout in 5th phase amid sporadic incidents of violence

A day after a purported audio tape, in which she is heard proposing a rally with the bodies of Cooch Behar firing victims, surfaced, 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.

By: Express Web Desk | Kolkata |
Updated: April 17, 2021 9:24:31 pm
ElectionsVoters queue up at a polling station in Kamarhati on Saturday. (Express photo by Shashi Ghosh)

A voter turnout of 78.36 per cent was recorded till 5 pm during the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections on Saturday. A total of 45 assembly segments went to the polls to decide the fate of 342 candidates during this phase.

There were sporadic incidents of violence reported during the polls on Saturday. In Deganga in North 24 Paraganas, local residents said the central forces had opened fire to disperse a mob, However, the CAPF denied the charges.

Security measures had been heightened for the fifth phase in view of the violence in the previous phase, which witnessed the death of five people in Cooch Behar district, including four in CISF firing. The Election Commission had deployed around 853 companies of central forces.

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

Locals in Deganga claim central forces opened fire, EC seeks report

The Election Commission on Saturday sought a report from poll observers on an alleged incident of firing by central forces in Deganga constituency of South 24 Parganas after such allegations were levelled by locals.

A senior election official said the office of CEO Ariz Aftab has received video footages, in which villagers are seen alleging that central forces opened fire near a booth in the Kurulgacha area of Deganga to chase them away. “We have sought a quick report on the matter from the poll observers there,” he said.

However, a Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) officer posted at the booth, where the locals claimed shots have been fired, said the allegations made are “baseless”.

“Everything is fine here. The voting exercise is going on very peacefully. There was no incident of firing anywhere in this area,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Clashes reported from Bidhannagar and Siliguri

In Shantinagar area of Bidhannagar, 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. A huge contingent of central forces was rushed to the spot to control the situation, they said.

TMC MLA Sujit Bose and BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta visited the spot to take stock of the situation.

Election People wear face shields at a polling booth on Saturday (Express photo by Shashi Ghosh)

In Baranagar seat, BJP candidate and actor Parno Mitra was gheraoed allegedly by TMC activists while she was touring the constituency. The TMC has denied the allegations and claimed that she was trying to influence the voters on the day of voting.

In Siliguri, a scuffle broke out between TMC and CPI (M) supporters outside a polling booth.

EC puts off poll at Jangipur seat following death of RSP candidate

The Election Commission on Saturday put off assembly election to the Jangipur seat in West Bengal following the death of a Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate.

As per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, in case a candidate of a recognised party dies, the poll is put off to allow the party decide on a new candidate.

A commission spokesperson told PTI, “Poll at 58 Jangipur AC in Murshidabad scheduled on April 26 stands adjourned due to death of RSP candidate.”

EC would announce a fresh poll schedule for the seat in the coming days, officials said.

BJP booth agent dies after falling sick during polling

A booth agent of the BJP died after falling sick at a polling station in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district on Saturday morning, prompting the Election Commission to seek a report, an official said.

Abhijit Samanta, the BJP agent of booth number 107 in the Kamarhati assembly constituency, fell sick within an hour of the beginning of the polling, he said. Samanta was declared brought dead when taken to a hospital, he said.

Voters waiting in the queue at the booth alleged that Samanta was not attended by poll officials and the central forces personnel initially even as he complained of chest pain and started vomiting.

“We have got information that the agent was not attended properly when he complained of sickness. We have sought a report from the micro-observer there,” the official said.

TMC playing politics with dead bodies: Modi

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 Congress 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.

My phone is being tapped, will order CID probe: Mamata

Mamata Banerjee Mamata Banerjee at Galsi on Saturday (Express photo by Partha Paul)

A day after a purported audio tape, in which she is heard proposing a rally with the bodies of Cooch Behar firing victims, surfaced, 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 in Galsi, 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.

A BJP delegation on Sunday urged Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab to take note of the audio clip.

Senior BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, who led the delegation to the CEO office, told reporters that he has apprised Aftab of the conversation that apparently took place between Banerjee and the TMC’s Sitalkuchi nominee, and pointed out that it could lead to untoward situations in the next three phases of the assembly elections.

(With inputs from PTI)

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