Blood in booths: CPI(M) activist killed in third phase of Bengal polls

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Apr 21, 2016 11:27 IST
Central paramilitary personnel stand guard outside a polling booth on the eve of the third phase of polling in Burdwan on Wednesday. (PTI photo)

Trinamool Congress supporters allegedly shot a CPI(M) activist in Domkal, Murshidabad, even as the third phase of the West Bengal assembly elections began on Thursday morning. Three others were injured in bomb explosions.

The victim, Sahidul Islam, is the first casualty of the ongoing polls.

Former minister Anisur Rehman, who is a high-profile CPI(M) candidate in this constituency, accused the Trinamool Congress of foul play. “I have heard that supporters of the ruling party have taken over a number of booths,” he said.

Read: Live | West Bengal elections third phase:18.29% voting rcorded till 9am

Polling is underway in as many as 62 constituencies spread across North Kolkata and Murshidabad, Nadia and Burdwan districts. The first 100 minutes of the process were largely peaceful, before the incident occurred.

The Election Commission has deployed 61 companies or about 6,000 central paramilitary personnel to ensure free-and-fair polling. Apart from them, Kolkata Police personnel also kept vigil on the proceedings.

As many as 288 of the 505 polling premises in the city have been declared sensitive.

Read: Fearing losses in other seats, TMC desperate to sweep Burdwan belt

Congress and Left leaders had alleged on Wednesday that Trinamool Congress supporters were issuing threats of violence to prevent people from going out to vote.

According to political analysts, the Trinamool Congress aims to sweep the Burdwan agricultural belt to make up for possible losses in Nadia, Murshidabad and Kolkata North. The party had won 30 of the 62 seats in 2011, with the Left and Congress getting 16 seats each. However, an informal Left-Congress alliance is expected to eat into the ruling party’s tally this time.

The Trinamool Congress had allied with the Congress in 2011.

Read: One lakh security personnel deployed for third phase of WB polls

“A disastrous result is awaiting Trinamool in this phase. Their 2011 tally will go down,” said state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.

Of the 22 seats in Murshidabad district, Sagardighi appears to be the only one where the Trinamool Congress has a fighting chance.

The Left-Congress alliance also hopes to reduce the Trinamool Congress’ 2011 tally of 13 out of 17 seats in Nadia. If one were to go by the 2014 Lok Sabha election results, the combined votes of the Congress and Left would be more than that of the ruling party in Karimpur, Palashipara, Chapra and Kaligunj areas of the district. They had a near-equal share of votes at Haringhata and Krishnanagar South.

Read: Confident of Bengal polls win, Mamata aims to ‘capture’ Delhi in 2019

In Kolkata North, the Left-Congress combine is hopeful of wresting at least two of the seven seats that the Trinamool Congress holds.

The agriculture belt of Burdwan offers the biggest hope of electoral victory to chief minister Mamata Banerjee in this phase, with the ruling party hoping to bag at least 13 of its 16 seats.

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