LS polls: Violence mars high turnout in Bengal 5th phase

Clashes between Trinamool and BJP workers reported in parts of Barrackpore, Aramabagh and Hooghly.
LS polls: Violence mars high turnout in Bengal 5th phase

KOLKATA: Stray incidents of violence were reported in Phase-V polls for seven parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal, where the Election Commission reported a voter turnout of 73% till 5 pm on Monday. Clashes between Trinamool Congress and BJP workers were reported in parts of Barrackpore, Aramabagh and Hooghly.

In Barrackpore, BJP candidate Arjun Singh claimed that Central forces were misguided by the state police. He alleged intimidation of voters by TMC workers. In Khanakul area of Arambagh constituency, clashes broke out between supporters of TMC and BJP over polling agents. Two live crude bombs were also recovered from the area by security personnel.

TMC candidate Mitali Bag alleged BJP supporters unleashed a reign of terror and intimidated voters. BJP candidate Arup Kanti Digar, however, dismissed the allegations and blamed the TMC for violence. Reports of violence were also received from parts of the Howrah constituency. In the Liluah area of the constituency, the BJP accused TMC workers of booth jamming, leading to clashes.

In Bongaon constituency’s Gayeshpur area, local BJP leader Subir Biswas was allegedly beaten up by TMC supporters outside a booth. He was later shifted to a hospital. In the Kalyani area of the same constituency, Union Minister and BJP candidate Shantanu Thakur caught a person using the identity card of his rival TMC candidate Biswajit Das inside a polling booth.

As many as 88 candidates are in the fray in the fifth phase, with the highest number of 15 nominees in Bongaon, where Union Minister Shantanu Thakur is contesting against TMC’s Biswajit Das. The EC designated over 57% of the polling stations as sensitive and deployed over 60,000 personnel of Central forces in addition to around 30,000 state policemen.

The number of security forces deployed for this phase surpasses any of the earlier four rounds of elections in the state. Meanwhile, CM Mamata Banerjee’s youngest brother Swapan Banerjee could not cast his vote after his name was not found in the voters’ list.

Bihar

Amid elaborate security arrangements, an estimated 55.85 percent of more than 95.11 lakhs electorate exercised their franchise during 5th phase of Lok Sabha elections in Bihar on Monday. Hajipur, Saran, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani and Sitarmhi went to the polls in the firth phase. 80 candidates including RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Rohini Acharya from Saran and LJP founder late Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan from Hajipur are in the electoral fray. Other prominent candidates are sitting BJP MP from Saran Rajeev Pratap Rudy and Chairman of Bihar Legislative Council Devesh Chandra Thakur from Sitmarhi. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Bihar H R Srinivasa said that polling passed off peacefully as no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in five constituencies. Electorate boycotted polling at booth number 79 in Aurai assembly segment and 140 in Gaighat assembly segment of Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha seat, he added.

Jharkhand

Despite Hazaribagh recording highest voter turnout among the three Lok Sabha seats during the second round of polling on Monday, none of the voters turned up on the two polling booths in Kusumbha village under Katkamdag Block as a way of protest against their unfulfilled demand. According to the villagers, they were demanding from the administration that a flyover should be built near Banadag Coal Sliding, but their demand has not been fulfilled so far. Therefore, nearly 2000 voters decided not to turn up for voting as a way of protest at the two polling booths – 183 and 184, of Kusumbha village. Not a single vote was cast on these two polling booths. The polling personnel returned empty handed as there was silence on the two polling booths throughout the day. Notably, the villagers had been requesting a bridge from NTPC authorities. The NTPC, however, is constructing an underpass, which the villagers find unsuitable for accessing drinking water, essential goods, medical services, and other day to day requirements.

Odisha

Odisha recorded 48.95 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm in the polling for five Lok Sabha constituencies and 35 Assembly segments on Monday, officials said. Voting started at 7 am in Aska, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Bolangir and Sundergarh parliamentary constituencies along with 35 assembly segments within the jurisdiction of these Lok Sabha seats. Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha. Police claimed that there was no report of any untoward incident in any polling booth. However, Chief Electoral Officer N B Dhal said one presiding officer of a booth in Kantamal assembly segment was taken to custody by police after some irregularities were found at the polling station. Regarding the murder of a man near Sarsara under Sadar police limits in Bargarh district, the CEO said: “It is not a poll violence, but a crime incident had taken place outside the polling station. The local police have managed the situation as the incident created some tension in the booth. The polling was not affected in this incident,” he said.

Jammu & Kashmir

After Srinagar, Baramulla Lok parliamentary seat in J&K witnessed record 59 % voter turnout, the highest in four decades. “The Baramulla parliamentary seat recorded 59 per cent voting,” said Chief Election Officer, J&K, P K Pole. It is the highest poll percentage recorded in Baramulla parliamentary seat in last four decades. It is the second highest poll percentage recorded pre-militancy era. In 1984, the Baramulla LS seat had recorded 61.09% voting. Of the 2103 polling stations in the constituency, none recorded zero percent polling. People in Sopore town, which is the hometown of late separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and used to witness very low voter turnout, came out to vote. “It is for the first time that I have voted in my life. And I am also a voter agent for the first time. It is for the first time that people are voting in this polling booth in Sopore,” said a youth Javed Ahmed. He said earlier, only few votes used to be cast in Sopore but now there is interest and enthusiasm among the people, especially among youth.

Ladakh

Ladakh is the largest parliamentary constituency in India in terms of area and covers the two districts of Leh and Kargil. Lt Governor Brig (Dr) BD Mishra (retd) and his wife Neelam Mishra were among those who cast their votes at Skara Yokma in Leh. Well-known climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, who was in the news recently for leading a 66-day sit-in protest in Leh over demands such as safeguards under the 6th Schedule for Ladakh and statehood, cast his vote in Leh’s Ulyaktopo village. “I have just voted and I am happy. I am also feeling sad because many people don’t exercise their right to vote. Many leaders sacrificed a lot for this country. People should celebrate the festival of democracy,” Wangchuk said. There are three candidates in the fray for the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat. While there are two candidates from the Buddhist-dominated Leh -- the BJP’s Tashi Gyalson and the Congress’ Tsering Namgyal – Independent candidate Mohammad Haneefa Jan is the lone candidate from the Shia Muslim-dominated Kargil region.

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