Bloodshed, clashes, booth capturing and attacks on media marked the last phase of polling for 17 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in which more than 80 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise.
Most of the violence took place in the city and in the adjoining districts of North and South 24 Parganas, where many political heavyweights were nominated by major political parties.
All the main Opposition parties - the Congress, the Left Front and the BJP charged the ruling TMC with creating a reign of terror to scare away voters and ousting their polling agents from large number of polling booths. The TMC denied all the allegations and instead accused the CPM of instigating trouble.
Trouble broke out early morning at Haroa in Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency in adjoining North 24 Parganas district when an armed group of TMC workers allegedly led by one of its woman MLAs and her husband raided a village, opened fire and assaulted CPM supporters with sharp weapons.
Four persons sustained bullet injuries and 18 persons were injured. Police arrested 12 men said to be TMC workers. The EC’s special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh directed the district administration to arrest TMC legislator Usharani Mondal and her husband.
TMC spokesman Derek O’Brien countered: “In Haroa, a former CPM panchayat pradhan Dinabandhu organised an armed attack in which 11 of our workers have been injured.”
At Posta in Kolkata North constituency, bombs were hurled at the home of former deputy mayor and BJP councillor Meena Devi Purohit though none were injured. BJP state chief Rahul Sinha, who is also a candidate from this constituency, alleged, “The ruling TMC is trying to create a panic fearing defeat as they have no choice.”
At several areas in north Kolkata, armed TMC workers in the presence of police in some places threatened the people against voting and ransacked camp offices of Opposition parties. Panic prevailed in large number of localities as bombs were hurled in the area.
Trouble brewed when local television channels aired interviews of young women voters who said they voted for safety and security of women in the state.
Rampant violence took place in the constituencies of Dumdum, Barrackpur, Basirhat, Barasat, Jadabpur and Diamond Harbour.
As such, the percentage of polling within the two city seats, Kolkata North and Kolkata South, was low compared to the state percentage and remained at around 65 per cent.
Correspondents and cameramen of two leading Bengali channels were assaulted by TMC workers when they tried to film rigging in some polling stations.