A CPI(M) worker was shot dead and two others were injured in Murshidabad district’s Domkol during the third and the biggest phase of polling for the Bengal assembly on Thursday which was marred by violence.
Sahidul Islam, 40, was killed allegedly by TMC supporters outside a polling station minutes after voting started. Throughout the day, 960 complaints were lodged and in Kolkata’s Beleghata alone, 47 people were arrested. In another place, the ruling party were accused of snipping the earlobe of a CPI (M) supporter and then breaking his leg.
Till 5pm, 79.22% voter turnout was recorded.
Crude bomb attacks and voter intimidation was also reported, despite the EC having issued 16,000 non-bailable warrants, and getting 15,562 anti-social elements bound down, officials said. Officials also seized Rs1.97 crore from the four districts that went to polls and confiscated 463 illegal arms.
Sporadic violence was reported from Burdwan and Nadia districts, the erstwhile bastions of the CPI(M).
The third phase is the biggest of the six phases with 62 constituencies – 22 in Murshidabad, 17 in Nadia, 16 in Burdwan and 7 in Kolkata – going to polls. The phase is especially crucial for the ruling TMC that has to get the maximum seats in Burdwan and Kolkata to offset loses that alliance arithmetic may inflict in Murshidabad and Nadia.
Kolkata saw the lowest turnout till 3pm with 49.43% of the voters having pressed the button, while 79.29%, 81.62% and 78.26% did so in Murshidabad, Nadia and Burdwan districts respectively.
“The police super has conveyed in its report that TMC supporters are not connected with the Domkol incident. Yet Trinamool is being held responsible for it,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a public meeting in Amdanga in North 24 Parganas.
“The police super of Murshidabad is hand in glove with the ruling party,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury shot back.
“EC failed in its duty. We have demanded re-poll in 15 booths of Domkal,” said leader of opposition and CPI-M politburo Suryakanta Mishra.
The phase was seen as crucial for the ruling Trinamool Congress that was aiming to sweep Burdwan and Kolkata to offset possible losses in Murshidabad and Nadia, where an informal Left-Congress alliance is stronger.
Sporadic violence was also reported from Ketugram in Burdwan district, where a Trinamool worker was accused of cutting off the earlobe of a CPI-M supporter and breaking his leg.
In Kolkata, Union minister Babul Supriyo was seen sprinting in North Kolkata lane behind a Trinamool supporter who allegedly hurled abuses at him when the BJP leader went to cast his vote along with his parents.
Anwar Khan, a Trinamool leader from north Kolkata, was arrested for saying the Election Commission deserved to be hit with a shoe.
The poll panel received 2,777 complaints till 6 pm.