64% turnout in Bengal amid sporadic violence, rigging (3RD LEAD)(3 PM)

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Kolkata, May 19 (IANS) A BJP candidate was attacked while the vehicles of another saffron party nominee and a party leader were vandalised allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers as West Bengal recorded 63.66 per cent polling till 3 p.m. on Sunday amid allegations of sporadic violence, rigging and EVM breakdowns.

The nine remaining parliamentary constituencies in the state went to the polls in the final phase of Lok Sabha elections on Sunday. Braving the scorching heat, large number of voters of various age groups lined up outside the polling stations in the nine constituencies since early morning.

As of 3 p.m., Basirhat recorded the highest polling percentage at 69.89 per cent, followed by Mathurapur (69.39 per cent), Barasat (65.38 per cent), Dum Dum (65.24 per cent), Jaynagar (64.21 per cent), Diamond Harbour (63.96 per cent), Jadavpur (60.59 per cent), Kolkata South (58.66 per cent), Kolkata North (54.99 per cent).

The vehicle of Nilanjan Roy, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate from Diamond Harbour, was vandalised in Budge Budge, following which he blamed his Trinamool opponent and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee for hatching a conspiracy.

Anupam Hazra, the BJP nominee from Jadavpur, and another party leader accompanying him were attacked and the latter’s car was damaged allegedly by Trinamool workers after the BJP functionaries visited a booth under Ward No. 109 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation on receiving reports of rigging.

Alleging that he was pushed and shoved, Hazra accused the Trinamool of rigging all the 52 polling booths under the ward.

“The BJP Mandal President was also attacked and one of his teeth was broken. A CISF officer stationed at the booth was also injured in the attack by the Trinamool workers,” Hazra said.

At Park Circus in Kolkata North constituency, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Rahul Sinha was allegedly pelted with stones, which injured the cameraperson of a local news channel.

Meanwhile, the BJP candidate from Kolkata South, Chandra Kumar Bose, accused the Trinamool Congress of attacking his party’s polling agents in various parts of the constituency.

Later, bombs were hurled near the city’s Posta area causing panic among the locals. A large contingent of police and central force personnel were rushed to the spot.

The by-polls in Bhatpara Assembly constituency in North 24 Parganas district was marred by severe violence and bombing amid clashes between the workers of the BJP and the Trinamool. The police had to resort to lathi charge and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) had to be deployed in the area to control the situation.

In Basirhat constituency’s Minakha, BJP supporters created a road blockade accusing Trinamool activists of threatening them and impeding them from going to the polling booths. However, the blockade was withdrawn after central forces reached the spot and escorted the voters to the polling stations.

The CPI-M’s candidate from North Kolkata, Kaninika Bose (Ghosh), staged a protest demonstration in Belgachia, alleging that her party’s polling agents were beaten up and not allowed to sit inside the booths in the area.

In Jadavpur constituency’s Baruipur area, Trinamool Congress booth President Azizur Rahman allegedly guided many voters to cast their votes for the state’s ruling party. The presiding officer accepted that the accused was “helping out” voters to cast their votes.

Meanwhile, Trinamool’s Kolkata South candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was not allowed to enter a polling booth by the central forces in Mudiali after an EVM failure was reported from there.

Some locals raised “go back” slogans against BJP leader and Union Minister Babul Supriyo when he was taking to the media after casting his vote at a booth in Jorasanko in the North Kolkata parliamentary constituency. The singer-turned-political immediately left the spot.

In the initial hours, polling was halted in a number of booths due to faulty Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Polling at three booths in Dum Dum’s Nagerbazar area and one in South City College under the Kolkata South seat was delayed by more than an hour, while voting did not begin until 9.30 a.m. at a booth in Sonarpur in the Javadpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Cases of EVM failures were also reported from several booths in Diamond Harbour, Joynagar, Barasat, Jadavpur, Dum Dum and both the constituencies of Kolkata.

Stakes are high at a number of parliamentary constituencies as several political heavyweights such as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee (Diamond Harbour), Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose (Kolkata South), BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha (Kolkata North), former Kolkata Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya (Jadavpur) and veteran Trinamool Congress MPs Sougata Roy (Dum Dum) and Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Kolkata North) are in the fray in the final phase of Lok Sabha elections.

–IANS

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