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Bengal phase 2: Temperatures run high

Overall voter turnout at 80.43 p.c till 5 p.m.; sporadic incidents of violence as TMC accuses BJP, Central forces of voter intimidation

Statesman News Service | Kolkata/Bankura/East and West Midnapore |

The phase 2 polling of Assembly elections in West Bengal recorded an overall voter turnout of 80.43 per cent till 5 p.m. amidst sporadic violence with the ruling Trinamul Congress accusing the BJP and Central forces of stopping polling agents and voters from entering polling booths.

Trinamul traded allegations of booth capturing in Nandigram, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Election Commission over inaction to complaints filed by her party and threatened to move court over it as well as raised the issue to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar over phone.

Tension erupted in Nandigram, where Miss Banerjee is locked in a high- stakes electoral battle with her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who has switched to the BJP, with Trinamul Congress accusing the BJP and the Central forces of stopping voters from casting their votes.

Later in the afternoon, Miss Banerjee rode her wheelchair to the polling booth at Boyal primary school and seated herself outside the booth while the situation aggravated outside.\

Mr Sudip Jain, deputy Election Commissioner incharge of Bengal inquired about the Nandigram incident from Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab while special and micro observers spoke to Miss Banerjee at the booth. The Commission has also sought a detailed report from the district administration in connection to this incident.

“There was disturbance between two groups following which tension had ensued. But re-enforcement of forces brought the situation under control,” said Mr Aftab. Till 5 p.m., Bankura recorded the highest voter turnout of 82.92 per cent followed by East Midnapore with 81.23 per cent while South 24 Parganas recorded a voter turnout of 79.65 per cent and West Midnapore saw a turnout of 78.02 per cent. In Nandigram 80.79 per cent voters cast their votes.

“Polling was overall peaceful except a few stray incidents. Twenty eight people were arrested in connection to two incidents in Keshpur in West Midnapore,” said Mr Aftab adding that decision on re-poll would be taken after scrutiny tomorrow.

Earlier, Mr Adhikari’s car was attacked, and stones were pelted while he was visiting booths in the constituency. Two separate stone-pelting incidents took place in Takapura and Satengabari in Nandigram.

A BJP worker was found hanging at his home at Bhekutia in Nandigram, triggering tension in the constituency. The deceased has been identified as Uday Sankar Dubey, a worker of IIT-Kharagpur and his family members lodged a complaint with the police stating that he committed suicide as some unidentified Trinamul workers had threatened him after he attended Mithun Chakraborty’s rally in the area.

Soon after polling started it was reported that a TMC worker, identified as Uttam Dolui, was stabbed to death in the early hours today. SP of West Midnapore said that some unidentified miscreants killed a TMC worker with a sharp weapon last night in Dadpur. Eight have been arrested in connection with the murder.

A BJP polling agent at booth number 173 in Keshpur was beaten up allegedly by TMC workers and was rushed to a hospital. BJP leader Tanmay Ghosh’s car was also vandalised.

Bharti Ghosh, BJP candidate from Debra constituency, alleged that her polling agent was surrounded by TMC goons in Nowpara booth no 22 of Anchal-1 who were not letting him inside the booth.

There are a few sporadic incidents of violence in Chandipur, Nandigram, Keshpur, Ghatal and Chandrakona. Few media persons were attacked and their vehicles were damaged.

In the Gosaba area of South 24 Parganas, clashes were reported between Trinamul and BJP supporters while in the Mahisadal seat, the Trinamul alleged BJP workers had stopped voters from going to the polling stations.

An overall peaceful polling was witnessed in Bankura. In booth number 73 and 74 of Sonamukhi, trouble ensued after BJP polling agent was allegedly beaten up with sticks by Trinamul workers but police reached the spot bringing the situation under control.

Polling in a few booths were stalled for few hours due to technical problems. A total of 87 VVPATS were replaced while 12 EVMs reported malfunctioning in the district. CPI-M delegation led by senior leader Rabin Deb complained to the EC against BJP and Trinamul workers for blocking voters from entering polling booths in Keshpur, Chandrakona and Ghatal