A three-cornered battle is on the cards in 31 Assembly seats that are set to go to polls on Tuesday in the third phase of Bengal elections, with the BJP seeking to breach TMC fortresses, and Left Front-ISF-Congress alliance hoping to make a mark in areas, where identity politics has gained ground.
More than 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 205 candidates — prominent among them being BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly — in three districts — Howrah, Hooghly and South 24 Parganas.
Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting, with 618 companies of CAPF deployed to guard 10,871 polling stations, all of which have been marked “sensitive” by the Election Commission. State police forces will also be deputed at strategic locations to aid the CAPF.
Here are the live updates:
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged misuse of Central forces.
“The blatant misuse of Central forces continues unabated. Despite us repeatedly raising this issue, @ECISVEEP continues to be a mute spectator while men in uniform are being misused at several places to openly intimidate TMC voters & influence many to vote in favour of one party,” Ms. Banerjee said on social media, sharing a video of an incident in Uluberia in Howrah in which Central forces personnel and locals could be seen arguing.
TMC candidate from Dhanekhali in Hooghly Asima Patra also alleged excesses by the forces.
The Hindu’s Political Editor speaks about the upcoming elections in West Bengal and Assam
In this episode of Talking Politics with Nistula Hebbar, we discuss the top political stories of the week: the fierce battle in Nandigram, the runaway EVM machine and the campaign gag on BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sharma.
Listen to the episode here.
Modi urges people to vote in large numbers
“Elections are taking place in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. I request the people in these places to vote in record numbers, particularly the young voters,” the prime minister tweeted.
Mr. Modi also tweeted in Bengali, Assamese, Tamil and Malayalam, urging voters in the four states and the union territory of Puducherry to vote in large numbers and strengthen the festival of democracy.
Polling till 9 a.m. was reported at about 15%.
One injured in crude bomb explosion outside a polling booth in Canning Purba Assembly segment.
Saukat Mollah, TMC candidate blames Indian Secular Front supporters for the violence.
– Shiv Sahay Singh
Mograhat Paschim South 24 Parganas Trinamool Congress candidate and Minister Giyasuddin Mollah and ISF candidate Maidul Islam accuse each other of intimidating voters outside the polling booth.
Diamond Harbour BJP candidate Dipak Halder alleges that voters are not being allowed to cast their votes in certain areas. Mr. Halder says he has sought intervention of the Election Commission.
TMC candidate from Dhanekhali in Hooghly makes similar allegations against BJP supporters.
– Shiv Sahay Singh
Regarding the incident in the Goghat Assembly area, police said today, that the wife of a BJP supporter was allegedly killed on Monday around 11 p.m.
Madhabi Adak was injured as she tried to save her husband when a few men barged into their home and attacked him, they said. Adak’s family alleged that the Trinamool Congress was behind the incident, a charge denied by the ruling party.
Overnight violence was reported in some parts of the State.
A woman was found dead in Goghat Assembly area in Hooghly.
Villagers in Baruipur Purba Assembly segment in South 24 Parganas alleged that they have been threatened to not cast their vote.
– Shiv Sahay Singh
Sector Officer of Uluberia Uttar consituency of Howrah district was suspended by the Election Commission for sleeping over at a relative’s house with reserve EVMs.
“Tapan Sarkar, sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah District went with Reserve EVM and slept at a relative’s house. This is a gross violation of ECI’s Instructions for which the Sector Officer has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment. The Sector Police attached to Sector Officer have also been directed to be suspended. The said EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls,” the Election Commission said.
Villagers spotted a vehicle with an Election Commission sticker outside the house of the TMC leader in the early hours, after which they started protesting, he added.
Then, it was found that the officer of sector 17 Tapan Sarkar was visiting the TMC leader’s house with the EVMs, the official said.
The EVMs and VVPATs were seized and the officer suspended, he said. “The four machines are not being used in today’s polling. We have sought a report from the District Election Officer,” he added.
The sector officer claimed that he reached the area very late and found the polling booth closed, following that he decided to spend the night at his relative’s residence, unable to find any “safe place” to stay.
– Amit Baruah, PTI
Voting is underway with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in 16 seats in South 24 Parganas district (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I).
Over 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 205 candidates, including BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, state minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly.
Polling began at 7 a.m. Long queues were seen outside polling stations, where voting will continue till 6.30 p.m.
Section 144 CrPC in all 31 constituencies going to the poll
The Election Commission has described as sensitive all the 31 West Bengal assembly constituencies where voting will be held in the third phase on Tuesday and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr PC in them, an official in it said.
The constituencies are spread over the districts of Howrah (Part I), Hooghly (Part I) and South 24 Parganas (Part II).
The order restricts unlawful assembly and movement, holding of public meetings, carrying of weapons, sticks, banners, placards by anybody as well as shouting slogans and using loudspeakers, he clarified.
Unprecedented deployment of Central forces in West Bengal
The Election Commission of India has deployed about 618 company of Central forces in West Bengal for the third phase of polling in the State in which 31 Assembly seats are going to polls on Tuesday.
Of the 618 companies of Central forces, 317 companies will be deployed in South 24 Parganas, the district where 16 Assembly seats are going to polls. 167 companies of Central forces will be developed in Hooghly and remaining in Howrah. Eight seats in Hooghly and seven in Howrah will go to polls in the third phase.
Confident of win in Bengal now, later in Delhi: Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on April 5 asserted that she would win the ongoing State polls despite injury and eventually aim for power in Delhi.
Training her guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Ms. Banerjee who is seeking a third term in office said that West Bengal will be ruled by its own people.