Elections

Violence mars polling in Bengal; one dead

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on May 12, 2019 Published on May 12, 2019

Despite clashes, the State witnessed 80.16 per cent turnout across the eight seats that went to polls during the sixth phase   -  -

Violence marked the sixth phase of polling in Bengal as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) clashed with its prime Opposition, the BJP. Violence was reported from places such as Ghatal, Midnapore and Jhargram. The BJP matched the ruling party blow-by-blow, leading to sporadic clashes.

Trouble broke out in Jhargram late on Saturday night when a BJP worker was killed allegedly by his counterparts in the TMC.

Despite the clashes, 80.16 per cent of the 133,56,964 voters registered cast their votes till 6 pm across the eight seats that went to polls on Sunday.

Four of the eight seats are located in the former Maoist hotbed — Jhargram, Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura. The other four are Bishnupur, Ghatal, Tamluk and Contai. All the eight seats were red citadels at a point until the Maoist movement in 2008-09 and subsequent aggression by the TMC in 2010 onwards saw them swing in favour of Mamata Banerjee.

However, post the 2018 Panchayat elections in Bengal, the BJP has gained ground in Purulia, Jhargram, Bankura and across parts of Midnapore.

This apart, factional feud in the TMC has come as an added advantage for the party.

The BJP pitted its State President Dilip Ghosh in Midnapore, and former IPS office Bharati Ghosh — once close to Banerjee — as its candidate in Ghatal.

Most of the incidents of violence were reported from these two seats. Dilip and Bharati take on Manas Bhuniya and Dev (aka Dipak Adhikari) of the TMC in these seats respectively.

A BJP activist, identified as Ramen Singh (30) from Gopiballabpur in Jhargram constituency, succumbed to his injuries after being hit with an iron rod during an altercation with TMC workers late on Saturday night. He was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, the police said. The TMC has denied any involvement in the incident.

Death of Sudhakar Maiti, a TMC worker, was also reported from the Contai area in East Midnapore before polling began on Sunday. However, a senior TMC leader has claimed the death was due to an accident and not political violence.

Attack on BJP candidates

Most of the incidents were reported from Ghatal in West Midnapore district where BJP’s Bharati Ghosh was forced to take shelter inside a temple being heckled by TMC supporters, who accused her of instigating disturbance in the area.

The Rapid Action Force (RAF) resorted to lathi charge. She was later rescued and sheltered at the local police station.

Some of the vehicles belonging to the media were also vandalised.

The BJP has also written to the EC alleging “involvement of outsiders” brought in by the TMC to “vitiate the polls”.

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Published on May 12, 2019
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