Two Congress supporters were killed and one critically injured on Saturday morning in Murshidabad district as violence marred polling in three municipal corporations and gram panchayats in West Bengal.
Incadul Mondal (26) and Futkar Mondal (27) were killed when bombs were hurled allegedly by ruling Trinamool Congress supporters at Hariharpara in Murshidabad, where the bypoll to Patharghata gram panchayat is being held. Khaju Mondal (25) was rushed to Murshidabad Medical College with severe injuries sustained in the attack.
“Trinamool supporters hurled the bombs killing our men,” said Ashoke Das, Congress spokesperson in Murshidabad.
Elsewhere, violence and intimidation were reported from Asansol Municipal Corporation (in Burdwan district) and Salt Lake-Rajarhat area, where polls are being held for the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation.
“Trinamool supporters captured booths in the presence of the police who were mere spectators. Ruling party-backed goons were openly brandishing swords and lathis on the streets intimidating voters,” said CPI(M) leader and former minister Bangsagopal Chowdhury.
Reports said Trinamool workers from different districts arrived in these areas to help the ruling party conduct the elections.
Salt Lake, which borders Kolkata, witnessed strange scenes were in the morning. Hindustan Times reporters visiting the Administrative Training Institute polling station at 10:30am, found the doors of the booth closed with no voters waiting outside.
A few minutes later a youth and a woman walked out of the booth, claiming they have cast their votes and displaying the ink mark on their fingers. But when asked to pose with their identity cards, they said the cards were not with them.
“Ruling party thugs are intimidating voters in Salt Lake. The booths have been captured since morning, and the policemen standing guard are conveniently looking the other way,” said Mitali Mitra, the BJP candidate in ward 30 of Salt Lake.
Clashes during local body polls in Bidannagar (WB) pic.twitter.com/INDAJjhvx0— ANI (@ANI_news) October 3, 2015
There were incidents of bombs being hurled in ward 41 of Salt Lake. CPI(M) leaders Asim Dasgupta and Gautam Deb alleged that outsiders in large numbers were brought to Salt lake and Rajarhat on Thursday and Friday to intimidate voters. The accusations were obviously directed at the Trinamool Congress.
The Congress withdrew its candidate in ward 29 of Bidhannagar, alleging the ruling party was using brute force to reduce the elections to a farce.
“Booths have been captured. If necessary, we will move court,” said Arunava Ghosh, Congress leader and a prominent lawyer.
Polling in Bally area of Howrah Municipal Corporation was more or less peaceful in the morning. No violence was reported from the subdivisional elections in Siliguri.
These municipal corporation and rural bypolls have assumed political significance in Bengal after the entire opposition (BJP, the Left and Congress) sunk their differences and tried to get together to resist what they described as the ‘loot of votes’ by the ruling party.
Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, wanted to ensure that it continued its winning streak and boost the morale of supporters ahead of assembly polls early next year.
Later, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury lambasted the Trinamool Congress over the incident and said it was a “cold blooded murder of democracy”. He also called for fresh elections to the two municipal corporations monitored by Central forces.
“Today in the Bengal elections media too has been roundly attacked by the Trinamool Congress. It is a cold blooded murder of democracy in West Bengal.”