Amid opposition parties’ allegations of terror and violence by the ruling Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, around 60 per cent voters today cast their ballots in the election to the 144-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), billed as the “semifinal” before next year’s Assembly poll.
Reacting to opposition charges, state Election Commissioner S R Upadhay said, “If election was held in proper atmosphere, so many complaints would not have been made. After going through all the reports we can tell you how many complaints are true and how many false.”
“60 per cent polling has been recorded till 3 PM when the voting closed, although voters’ queues are seen outside many booths,” Sabyasachi Ghosh, Officer on Special Duty, state Election Commission, said.
Terming the civic poll as a “farce”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the TMC of resorting to terror to win the election, a charge rejected by TMC Secretary-General and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee.
The SEC, when asked about the possibility of repoll, said that the allegations were being looked into and any decision in this regard would be taken tomorrow.
On the incidents of terror and violence, he said, “If such things really happened, it was bad for democracy”.
Describing the election free and peaceful, Partha Chatterjee said that the way the people stood in long queues braving a scorching sun, it showed that the TMC-run KMC board had done enormous development under the leadership of party supremo Mamata Banerjee.
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This had silenced the opposition parties which were banking on a smear campaign against Trinamool Congress rather than reposing faith in the people, he told reporters.
On the other hand, CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged that the ruling party unleashed “unprecedented terror to stifle the democratic rights of people”.
State BJP President Rahul Sinha demanded that the State Election Commissioner should resign, or he should cancel the election and order a fresh poll.
Echoing him, WBPCC President Adhir Chowdhury said that the TMC supremo showed how the poll could be turned into a farce by using the administration.
He expressed surprise at the fact that if the TMC was so sure about winning the election, why it had to resort to terror.
The results of the KMC poll will be declared on April 28, along with results of 91 other municipalities across the state, election to which will be held on April 25.
Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha said that apart from a few incidents of violence, the polls passed off peacefully.
“Apart from a few incidents of violence, the polls have remained more or less peaceful. We have taken strong action whenever we received any complaint. We arrested 58 people today for trying to create disturbance. We have recovered 18 crude bombs. Two incidents of firing were reported. We are investigating it,” Purkayastha told reporters.
In ward number 144 in the Kudghat area in south Kolkata, the CPI(M) accused the TMC of beating up their party candidate and workers.
Some opposition parties claimed that at Kankurgachi in north Kolkata, voters were asked not to cast their votes and go back home.
In the Garden Reach area, a TMC candidate allegedly threatened media persons. The candidate later on said that his words were misinterpreted.
In the Ganguly Bagan area, CPI(M) workers claimed they were beaten up by TMC supporters. In Park Circus’s Beniapukur area, bombs were hurled at CPI(M) workers and few rounds were fired.
Two bombs exploded near a Congress booth office in ward number 45, the police said.
CPI-M leader Fuad Halim claimed that three shots were fired at him near the Indian Museum in the central part of the city. The police has launched an investigation into his complaint.
The Mukundapur area in south-east Kolkata, which witnessed attack on former CPI(M) Minister Kanti Ganguly last night, was tense today too as clashes between CPI(M) and TMC workers were reported.
Police SI injured in clash after civic polls
A sub-inspector of Girish Park police station here was critically injured by bomb splinters during a clash allegedly between two political parties soon after voting for the city civic board ended this afternoon.
Police said the SI was rushed to a local hospital where his condition was stated to be critical.
The incident occurred outside a polling booth at a school building of Singhi Bagan area where the SI was on poll duty.
“Bombs were hurled during the clash between two political parties minutes after the end of Kolkata Municipal Corporation poll and the SI was injured by the splinters. We are looking into the incident,” a police officer said.
Nobody arrests have been made so far, he said, adding, a huge force of Kolkata Police was looking for persons involved in it.