Stray Incidents In WB, Over 33 PC Votes Polled In 4 hours

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Kolkata: Sporadic incidents of clash were reported during polling in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha election in seven seats of West Bengal on Monday, with around 33.47 per cent of nearly 1.17 crore voters casting their ballots in the first four hours, officials said.

Violence was reported from Barrackpore, Bangaon, Howrah and Hooghly constituencies. “There have been some stray incidents of clash from a few places. We have taken immediate steps,” a senior election official here said.

A scuffle between Barrackpore seat’s BJP candidate Arjun Singh and central forces was reported when the former TMC MLA tried to enter a booth following allegations that voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise there, the official said.

Singh who was allegedly injured during the scuffle, was later seen chasing “fake voters” in Naihati area.

“Our agents were not allowed inside booths. People were not allowed to vote properly and I went there to have a look. I have the right to enter booths but police stopped me and hit me,” Singh told PTI.

Alleging that the police are not doing anything to stop rigging in some booths of Barrackpore seat, Singh demanded that polling be stopped and re-polling ordered.

The maximum number of “sensitive” booths in Monday’s elections is in Barrackpore seat where TMC sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi has been pitted against Singh, who switched over to the BJP recently after he was denied a ticket by party supremo Mamata Banerjee.

“We have heard about this incident and sought a report. Adequate number of central forces are there to keep a tab on the situation,” a police officer said. At a booth in Belmuri in Hooghly seat, BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee was seen threatening a polling officer. She is contesting the elections against TMC’s two-term MP Ratna De Nag.

The election official said a report on this incident was also sought. A presiding officer at a booth in Tarakswar was removed after one person, allegedly a TMC leader, was seen casting votes on behalf of others there.

“We have removed him and brought in another official in his place,” the official said. Stray incidents of violence were also reported from Bangaon and Howrah parliamentary seats, he said.

Of the seven constituencies, Arambagh (SC) recorded the maximum of 38.98 per cent of polling while Sreerampore recorded 36.84 per cent till 11 am, followed by Uluberia 36.07 per cent, Barrackpore 30.03 per cent, Hooghly recorded 33.55 per cent, Howrah 31.45 per cent and Bongaon (SC) 31.38.68 per cent, the official said.

The ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP, the Congress and Left Front constituent CPI(M) are the main contenders in the seven seats where the fate of 83 candidates will be decided by a 1,16,91,889-strong electorate.

To ensure free and fair polling the seven seats, the Commission has deployed a total of 578 companies of central forces.