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West Bengal panchayat polls: Voting underway amid violence; polling suspended at several booths – World News Network

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Cooch Behar (West Bengal) [India], July 8 (ANI): Amid incidents of violence during voting for the Panchayat election across West Bengal, workers of the state BJP on Saturday staged a protest outside the State Election Commission office in Kolkata.
Meanwhile, voting was suspended at Indreshwar primary school in Dinhata of West Bengal’s Cooch Behar after water was thrown into the ballot box here.
https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1677577629527080960
In another incident, a ballot box at a polling booth in Baranachina of Dinhata in Cooch Behar district was set on fire allegedly by voters who were angry with bogus voting that was reportedly going on here.
https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1677574231562027008?s=20
Another incident was reported from Balutola in Gopalpur Panchayat of Malda where a clash broke out between Congress and TMC workers and bombs were hurled.
https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1677585159049342976
The polling booth at Baravita Primary School in Sitai of Coochbehar also was vandalised and ballot papers were set on fire.
Several other incidents of ballot box and ballot paper looting and destruction were reported from numerous polling booths in the State.
However, the voter turnout was recorded at 22.60 per cent till 11 in the morning.
Abdullah, the booth agent of an independent candidate was killed in Pirgachha of North 24 Parganas district following a protest by the villagers who demanded the arrest of the accused and alleged that the husband of TMC candidate Munna Bibi is behind the murder.
Police personnel were deployed at the spot.
In the meantime, a 52-year-old TMC worker, Sateshuddin Sheikh was killed in Khargram of Murshidabad.
However, the residents of Nandigram Block 1 of Purba Medinipur district said that they are boycotting the election until Central forces are deployed at booth numbers 67 and 68 in Mahammadpur No. 2 area.
A voter, Govind while speaking to ANI, said, “There is no Central force here. Booth capturing keeps happening here by TMC. They do bogus voting even in the name of the deceased. We won’t allow voting here unless Central forces come here…”
The panchayat elections are underway for a single phase, with the counting of votes scheduled on July 11.
The polls are likely to see a fierce tussle for control of local administrations between the ruling TMC and the BJP and will be a litmus test for both parties ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Around 5.67 crore voters are likely to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 928 seats across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat Samiti, and 63,239-gram panchayats seats.
The number of village panchayat election centres is 58,594. There are 63,239 seats at the Gram Panchayat level, 9730 at Panchayat Samiti and 928 at the Zila Parishad level.
In 2018, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won uncontested, 34 per cent of the seats in panchayat elections, which also saw various instances of violence. Trinamool Congress has won many seats uncontestedly in the 2023 elections as well.
Following the violence, a war of words escalated between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Trinamool Congress.
In-charge of BJP’s National Information and Technology Department Amit Malaviya posted a purported video which showed a man opening fire with a gun.
https://twitter.com/amitmalviya/status/1677575109652127744
“TMC goons openly brandish a gun and threaten an independent candidate in Barrackpore, North 24 Parganas. 9 people have died since morning and no one knows how many more will die through the day. SEC and Mamata Banerjee are responsible for this bloodshed. They didn’t deploy CAPF,” he said in a tweet.
BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar alleged that “TMC hooliganism crossed all limits” and that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along with the Chief Electoral Officer of the state were “responsible” for murders.
“Bloodshed in West Bengal in Panchayat Election. TMC candidate killed an independent Muslim candidate in North 24, Parganas dist. TMC knows only the language of violence, murder and booth capturing. CM @MamataOfficial along with @CEOWestBengal is responsible for these murders,” he said.
Majumdar claimed that the workers of the TMC have looted the ballots from many polling booths in the state.
“TMC hooliganism has crossed all the limits and is now stifling democracy by looting ballots openly in the West Bengal Panchayat elections,” he said.
Majumdar further accused the West Bengal government and the state polling body of “hoodwinking” the court’s order which directed the deployment of central forces in all the districts.
“On the one hand, the SEC is reluctant to deploy the central forces. On the other hand, civil volunteers are deployed for election duty. This clearly shows that the state govt and SEC have hoodwinked the courts. Is SEC silently facilitating the booth capturing by TMC goons?” he tweeted. (ANI)


Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed of ANI; only the image & headline may have been reworked by News Services Division of World News Network Inc Ltd and Palghar News and Pune News and World News


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