The first phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections are currently underway, with Election Commission data indicating 24.61% voter turn out in Bengal till 11 am. Things however got of to a rocky start, with bombing and firing incidents before voting began, and allegation and counter-allegations being hurled since.
In the Purba Medinipur district, bombing and firing took place in the Bhagabanpur constituency ahead of the polls, with two security personnel being injured. And in the Uttar Bar area of Bankura district, at least three Trinamool Congress workers sustained injuries in a blast that took place at their party office. On Friday night, a vehicle caught fire under mysterious circumstances while returning after delivering food to polling workers in Purulia.
Since then, as polling began, sporadic incidents of violence have been reported from some areas, even as the overall poll situation remained peaceful. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate for the Salboni constituency, Sushanta Ghosh, was attacked by unknown miscreants before being escorted away by security.
And both the BJP and the TMC continue to level allegations against each other. Each party has accused the other of interfering in the polls, contending that voters were being intimidated in certain areas. The Free Press Journal's Aritra Singha reports that the TMC has complained to the State Election Commission about CAPF personnel allegedly intimidating voters in Jhargram.
The TMC alleges that BJP supporters entered polling station at Garbeta of West Midnapore and are not allowing the voters to cast their votes. And the BJP has similar things to say.
"Voting underway smoothly in Midnapore town. But, at some places in rural areas, TMC workers are trying to create a disturbance. At booth no. 266 and 267, seven to eight TMC workers entered the booth to influence the voters. We've complained to EC," said Samit Das, the BJP candidate from West Midnapore earlier today.
TMC leader turned BJP candidate from Nandigram, Suvendu Adhikari has also written to the Election Commission, seeking suspension of Haldia Additional SP Partha Ghosh, Haldia SDPO Barunbaidya and some other officers of Nandigram Police Station 'for helping TMC members in carrying out malpractices, irregularities during the poll.
TMC MP Derek O'Brien in the meantime has written to the EC flagging what he said was a 'discrepancy' in the voter turn out data. Both parties are now slated to meet with the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer.