A spectre of violence looms over the second phase of polls in West Bengal when 56 seats in seven districts go to the polls on Sunday.
One of the districts, Birbhum, hit the headlines several times in the past two years because of political clashes between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP.
Arms, ammunition and crude bombs were regularly recovered from villages in the district, including a haul incident of 800 bombs from a primary health centre.
Three persons were killed in Rampurhat in an explosion earlier this year. They were making crude bombs when the explosives went off. Local residents apprehend violence --especially in Nanoor --where the supporters of district Trinamool president Anubrata Mondal and rebel party leader Kajal Sheikh -- who supports the CPI-M --may clash.
Malda is another district that may see violence with memories still fresh of a mob burning down a police station a few months ago.
“Among the 3,100-odd complaints the election commission received in Phase II, more than 1,100 came from these two districts,” said a senior poll panel official.
“The maximum number of vulnerable polling stations, vulnerable hamlets, vulnerable voters and trouble mongers are from these two districts.”
These two districts account for the highest number of fake currency, illegal arms and ammunition, liquor and explosives seized during the run-up to the assembly polls.
The Trinamool is up against an informal Left-Congress
Political observers say the districts in phase I – once-Maoist dominated areas and parts of Burdwan – were mostly stronghold of the Trinamool Congress.
But the real challenge for chief minister Mamata Banerjee starts from Sunday as her party appears lagging behind the combined might of the Left Front and Congress in vast tracts of north Bengal.
The much talked about ‘Siliguri Model’ – a coming together of Left and Congress -- helped the opposition clinch the Siliguri municipal corporation when Trinamool swept south Bengal last year. It was this model that sowed the seeds of the Left-Congress alliance.