The Pioneer reports from Ground Zero | west bengal

| | Kolkata
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The Pioneer reports from Ground Zero | west bengal

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata

The Pioneer reports from Ground Zero | west bengal

Stray incidents of violence marked the fourth-phase polling in West Bengal’s eight constituencies that went to the polls on Monday, with a little more than 75 per cent voter turnout reported by the Election Commission of India. The EC said the polling percentage could increase by a few percentage points in the final count.

While Behrampore — from where Pradesh Congress president Adhir Chowdhury is contesting against TMC’s Yusuf Pathan — Krishnagar, Ranaghat and Burdwan East was comparatively peaceful with a couple of incidents of “stick-fighting” being recorded from Krishnagar. Some areas of Burdwan-Durgapur seat from where former BJP State president Dilip Ghosh is contesting against TMC’s Kirti Azad witnessed sporadic violence, sources said. A Trinamool Congress supporter at Monteshwar in Burrdwan-Durgapur seat was hurt after he was allegedly beaten up by the Central forces guarding the booth.

A similar incident took place at Burdwan city when Ghosh rushed to a polling booth hearing that the booth had been blocked by the TMC men. After he was returning from the area, local TMC workers resorted to brick-batting. In the melee the back windshield of one of the vehicles in his convoy got smashed and a CAPF jawan sustained injuries, sources said. He was rushed to the hospital.

“The TMC goons do it every year … they capture booths and chase away voters … they do not allow people to vote  year after year … as they are being stopped from doing so this year they are getting hostile,” Ghosh said.

At Tehatta in Krishnagar, the BJP men fought with their TMC counterparts with bamboos, in which several saffron workers were injured. Elsewhere a CPI(M) worker got a fractured forehead in a clash with TMC men, sources said. Reports from Palashi Para surfaced of defective EVMs where every vote pressed for the TMC was reportedly going to the BJP, sources said. Subsequently the machine was changed but 255 votes that had already been polled would be counted, ECI sources said. A total of 1,45,30,017 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in 15,507 polling stations.

A total of 75.66 per cent voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm. According to latest reports while Bolpur Lok Sabha constituency registered 77.77 per cent, neighbouring Birbhum saw 75.45 per cent voter turnout.

This was followed by Ranaghat with 77.46 per cent and neighbouring Krishnagar 77.29 per cent voters casting their votes.

While 77.36 per cent voters exercised their franchise at Bardhaman- East, Baharampur from where Chowdhury is contesting witnessed 75.36 per cent polling. Asansol from where Shatrughan Sinha is contesting against SS Ahluwalia witnessed a surprisingly low 69.43 per cent polling.

Even as a comparatively low turnout of voters tended to keep all sides guessing experts said things could hurt the Trinamool Congress the most. “While in 2019 and 2021 elections the polling was around 82 per cent “in panchayat elections, Bengal saw 85 per cent polling of which at least 8-10 per cent was bogus … now this is the real percentage and the TMC will have to face it,” said PCC leader Ashutosh adding, “TMC knows what they will face now.”

Meanwhile, in a related development Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying his guarantees were all “acts of 420” (cheating) and asked him first to fulfill his earlier promises.

“Modi is giving guarantees after guarantees, but the question is what about the promises that he made in the past 10 years… Did anyone of you get Rs 15 lakh in your accounts that he promised … did he provide yearly 2 crore and in total 20 crore jobs … Is he giving free gas, free ration and free water which he claims … we are giving free ration and he is taking the credit … he promised free gas but has increased its price … so all his guarantees are acts of 420,” said Mamata, adding “the BJP is going out of power this time round … the people have understood this and are voting without fear.”

She, however, raised the EVM issue once again saying how some machines had been tampered with. “Today also I got a report that people are pressing TMC’s symbol and the vote is going to the BJP … this is the BJP is planning to win the elections,” she said adding they will be defeated in any case.

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