Amid isolated incidents of violence, a turnout of 73.5 per cent was recorded in nine constituencies of West Bengal that went to polls in the final phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab said, “Apart from some stray incidents, overall the election was peaceful. We replaced three presiding officers in three incidents of mismanagement of booths. In minor clashes, two vehicles — one of a candidate and another that was part of his convoy — were damaged. We have received a few complaints and are looking into it,” he said.
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State ADG, Law and Order, Siddhi Nath Gupta, said, “A total of 346 people have been arrested out of which 22 were arrested as a preventive measure. Six persons were injured.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of using central forces to “torture the people”. “The way BJP has used central forces to torture people here… I have never seen this. This is unprecedented,” she said.
Vehicles of BJP candidates Anupam Hazra and Nilanjan Roy, who are contesting are Jadavpur and Diamond Harbour, respectively, were reportedly attacked during polling.
The BJP alleged that Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers hurled bombs in several places to create panic among voters. “The TMC is nervous and that’s why it is resorting to violence,” said the BJP’s Kolkata North candidate Rahul Sinha.
The BJP has written to the CEO, demanding detailed scrutiny of several booths and repoll in some booths. In the letter, the BJP has said major problems were reported from Falta, Budge Budge and Satgachia areas in Diamond Harbour constituency. The party alleged rigging and booth capturing by the ruling party.
“Widespread violence was reported from Kolkata Uttar seat. At Bhangar in Jadavpur, at least 20 booths were affected. We are going to demand repoll in some booths in this parliamentary constituency once complete reports are available after closing of the polls. We demand in-depth scrutiny of today’s polls with the help of CCTV footage,” reads the letter.
TMC leaders, on the other hand, accused central forces of intimidating voters in various parts of North 24 Parganas district.
Tension was also reported from ward number 24 of Kamarhati Municipality. A TMC camp office was allegedly vandalised by central forces in Udyapalli Basic Primary School. It was alleged that central forces were not allowing TMC agent inside the booth.
“Central forces were creating problems for candidates and voters,” alleged Gopal Saha, chairman of the municipality.
TMC candidate from Barasat, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, too, accused central forces of intimidating voters.
Bombs were hurled in several areas, including Kolkata North and Mathurapur constituencies to trigger panic. There were complaints of EVMs being dysfunctional in several booths.
BJP’s candidate from Bashirhat constituency, Sayantan Basu, alleged rigging in several areas and said police were doing nothing to stop it. TMC candidate in Kolkata South, Mala Roy, alleged that central forces personnel did not allow her to enter booth number 72 at a polling station in Mudiali in the constituency. Roy said she will lodge a complaint with the poll watchdog.
In Bashirhat, bombs were hurled at Minakhan and Deganga. Voters alleged that they were prevented from voting at Malancha area of the constituency.
At Bhatpara, where an Assembly bypoll was held, TMC candidate Madan Mitra alleged that the party’s polling agents were not allowed inside booth number 106 and even he was not given the permission to go inside. “There was violence last night (Saturday). Cars were torched. A few people were injured. I was scared but huge number of central forces were present which gave me the confidence to come out and vote,” said Prasad Shaw, a voter.
In Kolkata North, stones were thrown at BJP candidate Rahul Sinha’s vehicle. At Sousthi Prathamik Vidyalaya in Jadavpur seat, violence broke out between TMC and BJP supporters.