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West Bengal polls: Sporadic skirmishes; TMC , BJP accuse each other of poll code breach

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Skirmishes and allegations between the Trinamool Congress and BJP marked the first few hours of voting to 31 seats in the third phase of polls in West Bengal.

The mother of a BJP worker was allegedly murdered last night in Goghat constituency’s Khushiganj by miscreants. The Election Commission stepped in and two persons were arrested. Goghat falls in Hooghly, one of the three distrcts where polls are held Tuesday.

A Sector Officer has been suspended by EC for keeping three sets of EVM and VVPAT in the residence of a suspected TMC supporter in Howrah’s Uluberia.

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  • “Tapan Sarkar, a sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah District went with Reserve EVM and slept at a relative’s house. This is a gross violation of ECI’s Instructions for which the Sector Officer has been suspended and charges will be framed for major punishment,” EC said.

    According to EC, the Sector Police attached to Sector Officer have also been suspended. The EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls.

    Meanwhile, tussle between ISF and Trinamool Congress workers have been reported in various booths, beating and ousting ISF camp offices and polling agents-these allegations have come up from various minority dominated districts of South 24 Parganas and Hooghly.

    In South 24 Parganas district’s Mograhat, a ISF candidate Moidul Islam sat in dharna inside a booth after he claimed armed men were trying to capture the booth. “I want justice. I will sit in the booth as they are trying to intimidate me and our polling agents,” Moidul said. He claimed ISF supporters and workers have been intimidated.

    Voters in South 24 Paragans district’s Baruipur that TMC miscreants have threatened them to stay away from casting their votes. A voter claimed, “TMC miscreants have beaten our family members and my elderly father had to hide in the rice field throughout the night.”

    In Raidighi, senior CPI-M leader and Raidighi candidate Kanti Ganguly said, “Violence and disturbance started from last night in Raidighi . It is becoming very difficult for us. Voters are not allowed to cast their vote.” Ganguly is a former minister of CPI-M.

    A woman minority voter in Hooghly’s Jagatballabvpur claimed, “I was threatened by TMC and asked not to go to cast my vote. Then security personnel helped me in reaching the polling station.”

    Dilip Ghosh said, “Poll related irregularities and malpractices by TMC is nothing new in Bengal. We have seen it in Panchayat and Lok Sabha polls. EVM machines have been recovered in ponds and largescale violence have been witnessed in the past.”

    The TMC had won all but one seat of these 31 segments in the 2016 assembly elections. The Congress had managed to bag Amta constituency in Howrah district.

    More than 78.5 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in Bengal today. Left Front-ISF-Congress alliance likely to make a mark in a three-cornered contest in the state.

    The Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, is a major headache for the TMC, as the outfit holds sway in several parts of South 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts. Mamata Banerjee has urged the minority voters to cast their votes to TMC in several rallies

    Altogether 205 candidates are in fray this phase, with heavyweights like former RajyaSabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and former CPI(M) minister Kanti Ganguly.

    With 618 companies of CAPF deputed to guard 10,871 polling stations, security has been tightened to ensure peaceful voting. Bengal police forces have also been deputed at strategic locations.

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