In the midst of corona-panic in India, the seventh round of West Bengal state assembly elections was held on Monday. There have been incidents of clashes around the polling booths, obstruction of voters, fraudulent voting and barring of agents from entering polling stations. However, no casualties were reported in the clash.
Voting is taking place in 294 seats of West Bengal Assembly in eight phases this time. Voting took place in 34 constituencies in five districts of the state on Monday. The eighth or last round of voting will be held on April 29 in 35 seats in four districts of the state. The results of the eight-point vote will be announced simultaneously on May 2.
In Monday’s vote, 26 candidates contested 34 seats. Among them are four outgoing ministers. They are the outgoing Municipal Minister Firhad Hakim, Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, Power Minister Shobhandev Chatterjee and Law Minister Malay Ghatak. Also present were two film stars Saini Ghosh and Rudranil Ghosh. Renowned costume designer and state president of BJP’s Nari Morcha Agnimitra Pal, economist Ashok Lahiri and Oishee Ghosh, vice-president of the student parliament of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi were present. Oishee Ghosh is contesting from Jamuria constituency in West Burdwan on CPM ticket. His home is in Durgapur, Burdwan.
Voting starts at 7 am and ends at 6:30 pm in Corona. Voting was held in 11,036 polling stations. There were 61 lakh 8 thousand 19 voters.
Section 144 was issued at polling stations in 34 constituencies to ensure smooth voting. 720 companies of central forces were deployed in all polling stations. And 25 thousand 338 policemen were recruited from the state police.
In the meantime, sporadic clashes have taken place in different parts of the state. Police clashed with actress Saini Ghosh, a Trinamool candidate in Asansol South constituency. When Saini Ghosh wanted to go to the polling station with a group of supporters, the police stopped him. Three people from the same village in Murshidabad’s Suti went to the polls with voter cards and found out that they were ‘dead’. They could not vote anymore. The central forces have been accused of vandalizing the houses of two grassroots activists in Raninagar, Murshidabad. One grassroots activist was injured and admitted to the hospital. Police arrested a BJP candidate in Kolkata’s Rash Behari constituency on charges of indecency at a polling station. The BJP was accused of demolishing the Trinamool Congress camp office in Durgapur, Burdwan. Apart from this, there has been a massive bombardment among the Congress-Trinamool supporters in Raninagar of Murshidabad.
The Trinamool Congress camp office was vandalized in Durgapur. A grassroots activist broke his arm and leg. The car of a BJP candidate was vandalized in Raninagar of Murshidabad. There are allegations that the BJP agent was picked up in Gangarampur. Voters in Harirampur have boycotted the polls demanding repair of dilapidated roads. There were bomb blasts in Nanur and Ratua. Several houses were damaged in the blast. Apart from this, there have been clashes in Kolkata and other places around the polls, obstruction of voting, forcible voting and forcing agents to enter polling stations.
Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee got into a wheelchair in the afternoon and cast her vote at the Mitra Institute (Boys) Center in Bhabanipur. However, former state chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya could not come to the polls due to physical illness. However, his wife and only daughter voted on the day.
Trinamool star candidates include outgoing state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee (Baliganj), municipal minister and former mayor of Kolkata Firhad Hakim (Kolkata port), outgoing power minister Shobhandev Chattopadhyay (Bhabanipur), outgoing law and labor minister Malay Ghatak (Asansol North), Kolkata. Debashish Kumar (Rasbihari), former mayor of Asansol, Tapas Bandyopadhyay (Raniganj), Zakir Hossain (Jangipur) of Murshidabad and actress Saini Ghosh (Asansol South) are the richest candidates in this constituency.
The BJP candidates include economist Ashok Lahiri (Balurghat), former Indian Air Force chief Subrata Saha (Rasbihari), former Asansol Municipal Corporation mayor Jitendra Tewari (Pandaveswar), costume designer Agnimitra Pal (Asansol South) and actor Rudranil Ghosh.
Leftist CPM candidates include Doctor Fuad Halim (Baliganj), son of former West Bengal Speaker Hasim Abdul Halim, and Oishee Ghosh (Jamuria), vice-president of the Student Parliament of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.