2 killed in blast as WB goes to polls amid tight security

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Kolkata
May 10, 2004 10:20 AM IST

Two persons were killed and six others injured in separate bomb explosions in the eastern parts of Kolkata on Sunday, on the eve of the LS polls.

Two persons were killed and six others, including three children, injured in separate bomb explosions in the eastern parts of the city on Sunday, on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections.

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Police sources said a bomb exploded at Entally when some anti-socials were making bombs in a house in the area, killing two and injuring three others.

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The injured have been admitted to a hospital.

In another incident in nearby Beliaghata area, three children were injured when a country-made bomb exploded in a garbage vat.

Police said that the bomb, hidden in a garbage vat by anti-socials, went off when the three ragpickers were rummaging through rubbish inside.

All three children were admitted to NRS Medical College and Hospital.

Meanwhile, with the dust of the two-week campaign settling on Saturday, candidates have begun door-to-door canvassing for the votes of a little over 4.74 crore electorate to elect 42 representatives to the Lok Sabha from West Bengal in Monday's poll amidst unprecedented security.

A total of 355 candidates, including 33 women, are trying their luck. This time, the number of contestants is higher by 51 than in the 1999 parliamentary elections.

Of the candidates, Left Front is contesting in 42 seats, followed by the main opposition Nationalist Trinamool Congress (NTC) in 29, its ally BJP in 13, besides Congress in 37 and BSP in 33 seats.

The rest are Independents.

Security has been beefed up all over the state with the arrival of 180 companies of central forces, as the border with Bangladesh and Bhutan as well as neighbouring states have been sealed to prevent arms smuggling and infiltration during the polling period.

NTC, as well as its ally BJP, have banked heavily on key campaigners, like Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and his deputy LK Advani to exhort voters of the need to return the NDA to power in the interest of stability and development in the country.

Both the NTC and BJP have tried to project the 'failure' of the CPI (M) and other Left parties in their campaign, while the CPI (M)-led Left Front highlighted the need to remove the NDA from power and help install a non-NDA government, either on its own or with Congress support.

While Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee actively campaigned, so did nonagenarian Marxist leader Jyoti Basu in spite of his age to speak for Left Front candidates.

Monday's poll will decide the fate of NTC chief Mamata Banerjee, Pradesh Congress chief and CEC member Pranab Mukherjee, NTC leader Ajit Panja, City Mayor and NTC leader Subrata Mukherjee, CPI(M) heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee, Congress leaders PR Dasmunshi and ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, among others.

Film stars, including Raj Babbar campaigned for Samajwadi Party and Shatrughan Sinha, Suresh Oberoi, Biswajit, Chunky Pande and Poonam Dhillon for BJP. Their rallies pulled crowds.

Over two lakh polling personnel, including 700 from neighbouring Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand have reached booths from the Darjeeling hills to Sagar beside the Bay of Bengal.

The poll has this time assumed special significance with the Election Commission sending 126 observers to the state, beside appointing a special observer to supervise the entire poll process.

Major Left Front partner CPI (M) has taken umbrage at the 'way of functioning' of some observers and complained to the Commission that they have been 'overstepping their brief.'

For the first time, helicopters have been requisitioned for transporting polling personnel and materials to remote areas of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore, which are extremist-prone districts.

DGP Shyamal Dutta said 343 'hypersensitive' booths have been identified in the three districts because of militant activities. While 7,238 booths have been marked sensitive 'A' and 9,303 booths sensitive 'B' in the districts, all the 782 booths in the metropolis have been identified as sensitive.

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