Even before poling started , a sector officer was suspended by the Election commission EC for keeping three sets of EVM and VVPAT at the residence of a suspected TMC supporter in Howrah’s Uluberia.
“Tapan Sarkar, a sector officer of Sector 17 in AC 177 Uluberia Uttar at Howrah District went with reserve EVMs 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,” the EC said.
Police personnel attached to the sector officer were also suspended. The EVM and VVPAT have been taken out of the stock and shall not be used in the polls.
The mother of a BJP worker was allegedly murdered last night in Goghat constituency’s Khushiganj by miscreants. Two persons were arrested. Goghat falls in Hooghly, one of the three districts where polls are held Tuesday.
Sujata Mondal Khan, who recently moved from the BJP to TMC to become its candidate in Arambag, was allegedly “gheraoed and attacked” by BJP workers around noon. Trinamool Congress complained to the poll panel that she suffered “grievous injuries”.
Skirmishes between ISF and Trinamool Congress workers were also reported in many places . ISF accused the TMC of beating up and ousting their polling agents in the 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 claiming armed men were trying to capture it. “I want justice. I will sit in the booth as they are trying to intimidate me and our polling agents,” Moidul said.
Voters in South 24 Paragans district’s Baruipur claimed “TMC miscreants” threatened them against 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.”
BJP leader 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 of these 31 seats in the 2016 assembly elections. The Congress had managed to bag Amta constituency in Howrah district.
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.