West Bengal witnessed incidents of violence during the phase 2 assembly elections, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee forced to confinement in a booth, while polling in Assam was largely peaceful. While Bengal witnessed 80.43% polling, Assam saw 74.76% of its total electorate turning up to cast their votes, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI)’s latest date.
However, the ECI said in the event that the second phase was conducted peacefully across both the states. “The second phase of Assam and West Bengal Assembly elections was conducted peacefully across 21,212 polling stations spread over 69 Assembly constituencies today,” said the poll body.
Sporadic violence and even minor clashes were reported from various constituencies, including the high profile Nandigram, which witnessed a contest between Banerjee and her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari. The Nandigram constituency recorded 80.79% polling, as per EC.
The Nandigram situation intensified after a face-off between BJP and TMC supporters on Thursday afternoon, due to which Banerjee was forced to confinement inside a polling booth for over two hours and only then she could be rescued by the paramilitary forces. She dialled Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar from the spot and said “anything might happen at any moment.”
Banerjee accused the central forces deployed in Nandigram of helping the BJP under instructions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. She alleged EC was also following his instructions and not acting on complaints lodged by her party. She said large-scale rigging had taken place in the constituency at the behest of BJP leaders. But she said she’s confident of her victory.
“The CRPF, BSF are acting under the instructions of Home Minister Amit Shah…they are only helping the BJP,” she told reporters outside a booth in Nandigram. “This is shameful. The people will give them a befitting reply. The way even women journalists have been heckled is disgraceful,” she said. “Goons from other states are creating ruckus here,” she added.
The TMC wrote to the Election Commission, alleging that a few CRPF personnel “misbehaved” with women voters and even intimidated them at polling booth number 197 in Nandigram. The party urged the poll body to replace the accused personnel and take immediate action against them.
Meanwhile, Suvendu Adhikari’s car was attacked, and stones were pelted while he was visiting booths in Nandigram. Two separate stone-pelting incidents took place in Takapura and Satengabari in the segment. Besides Nandigram, incidents of vandalism were reported from other places as well.
In Mahisadal, the TMC alleged that BJP workers had stopped voters from going to the polling stations. Meanwhile, ther BJP candidate from Keshpur assembly constituency, Tanmay Ghosh’s vehicle was vandalised allegedly by the Trinamool Congress supporters, police said.
In Debra, where former IPS officers, Bharati Ghosh (BJP) and Humayun Kabir (TMC) were in a direct contest, the turnout was 83.10%.
Six more phases of election are due in the state, ending on April 29.
The situation in Assam was largely peaceful during the Phase 2 when 39 seats in the state went to polls. There were reports of EVM glitches from some polling stations and upon immediate replacement, voting continued uninterrupted, an election official said.
Long queues were seen outside most of the 10,592 polling stations across the 13 districts in the Barak Valley, the Hill region and parts of Central and Lower Assam since early morning. A significant number of women voters were seen turning up early for exercising their franchise.
The third and final phase elections for 40 seats will be held on April 6. The votes for both the states will be counted on May 2.