The elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation though began peacefully in the morning, as the day proceeded, witnessed violent incidents that include physical clashes in and outside polling booths, and attacks on the Opposition party candidates and polling agents amid allegations of the ruling party having ferried in outsiders to create havoc in the city to wreck the elections.
The BJP expressed dissatisfaction over the security provided during the civic polls and said that the State Election Commission will be held responsible for “any untoward incidence”. Several parts of Kolkata today erupted in protests as consecutive incidents of violence came to the fore.
Areas in North Kolkata witnessed clashes between Opposition and ruling party polling agents. In ward 7 in Shyampukur, the BJP candidate Brajesh Jha got involved in a scuffle with the police as he alleged that his agents were barred from entering the booth by TMC cadres. A large posse of policemen was deployed to break a clash among members of the two parties.
In the Posta area, the BJP candidate Meena Devi Purohit alleged she was manhandled by TMC workers who tore portions of her clothes and drove her polling agents out of the booth. The TMC alleged that Meena Devi is putting up a drama and it is the BJP workers accompanying her who spread the chaos. The SEC took note of the incident and sought a report on the matter.
In the Burrabazar area in ward 23, a scuffle broke out inside the polling booth as chairs and tables were damaged. The BJP candidate Bijoy Ojha alleged he was assaulted and pinned to the ground by TMC workers who he said were accompanied by outsiders ferried in by the ruling party to disrupt the election. The TMC refuted the charge and instead accused the BJP candidate of encouraging false voting using his polling agents. The incident has apparently scared voters, some of whom returned home without casting their votes. The State Election Commission took note of the incident but confirmed that the booth was not captured. The police had to baton charge to drive away a crowd of agitators. One person was held by the police. The polling premises in Marwari Vidyalay, at Rabindra Sarani, was shut down later to prevent incidents of violence.
The Left Front alleged their polling agents were barred from entering booths and were assaulted by ruling party workers in wards 101, 102, 109, 110. The Left’s party members did a sit-in demonstration at Baghajatin blocking the road and traffic. The police reached the spot to convince them to withdraw the agitation. The CPIM candidate Faiyaz Ahmed Khan alleged he was attacked by TMC goons outside the polling premises at Marine House in the Kidderpore area. His car was vandalised while he was allegedly assaulted.
In ward 114, CPIM’s polling agent was threatened while he was at home for lunch. He alleged that TMC workers gathered outside his residence and threatened him against stepping out and returning to the booth. CPIM candidate of ward 21 Sujata Saha had to be admitted to a hospital after being attacked at the Jorabagan KMC building allegedly by TMC men. The candidate has received injuries to her head and is undergoing treatment.
The Congress candidates were also attacked at various booths. Political workers of TMC and Congress clashed in areas of Beliaghata and BBD BAG where Congress candidates alleged their polling agents were either driven out or stopped from entering booths.
Since morning videos of CCTV cameras in polling booths being covered with white papers were in circulation. The SEC however said there were false complaints lodged related to blocking of CCTV cameras inside polling booths. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar taking note of the day’s developments said he had requested the State Election Commissioner Sourav Das, twice, to ensure voters don’t feel intimidated and that the state administration must not interfere in the polling process to ensure a free and fair poll.