The fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections was marred by multiple incidents of clashes and violence in West Bengal, where an estimated 76.66 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in eight parliamentary constituencies on Monday. An electorate of 1,34,56,491 cast ballot to decide the fate of 68 candidates in Baharampur, Krishnagar, Ranaghat (SC), Burdwan East (SC), Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur (SC) and Birbhum.
Clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured and disrupting the polling process for a quite some time.
Speaking to media, an official said, "Polling was peaceful in the first two hours. However, news of clashes started surfacing thereafter. We have sought reports from each of these places. Our officials are monitoring the situation and taking proper measures to conduct the election in a free and fair manner".
There were also reports of a clash between Trinamool Congress and BJP workers outside a booth in Barabani, following a tiff between sitting MP and BJP candidate in Asansol Babul Supriyo and polling officials inside the station. Supriyo’s vehicle was allegedly vandalised by Trinamool workers outside a polling station. Trinamool Congress workers, on the other hand, alleged that Supriyo and his men had manhandled them.
An FIR was registered against Supriyo for allegedly trespassing into a booth and threatening polling officials. The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP accused each other of intimidating voters in the state, which has seen violence in all previous three phases despite stepped up central forces’ deployment.
In a separate incident at the Dubrajpur area, central security forces personnel reportedly opened fire in the air to disperse irate people who attacked them when they were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones.
The EC had deployed a total of 580 companies of central forces to cover all the polling booths in the Lok Sabha constituencies, to ensure free and fair polling. The eight seats that went to polls on Monday will see a four-cornered contest between the Trinamool Congress, BJP, Congress and the Left Front.
General Elections in West Bengal is scheduled to be held in all seven phases between April 11 and May 19. The counting of votes will be taken up on May 23.