The day started with two bombs hurled in the front of Mahajati Sadan, an auditorium at the heart of North Kolkata built by Rabindranath Tagore’s initiative (after being requested by Subhas Chandra Bose), and the sound of the bombs forced some footpath dwellers steel asleep to flee. With that polling began in the last 35 constituencies of Bengal at the end of a month-long voting exercise for 294 constituencies, in two of which elections have been countermanded due to candidates’ death (due to COVID).
As the day proceeded, such disturbances were reported from various areas of Kolkata including Beleghata, Paikpara, Shyampukur and Jorasanko. At Beleghata the locals, apparently BJP supporters, alleged the TMC goons attacked them with hockey and bamboo sticks. The scene was captured by the TV cameras too. Without a doubt, the attackers and the attacked did not wear masks when they were fighting it out. Even in many booths, physical distancing was not implemented strictly. All these happened when on the previous day 3,821 people were infected with coronavirus in Kolkata and 22 died.
It is no wonder that while in the constituencies of Malda, Murshidabad and Birbhum the poll percentage respectively was 41.58, 41.04 and 38.11 per cent at 11 PM, in Kolkata it was 27.6. At
Today is the last day of polls in Bengal, and the scenarios were bad in some areas of the districts of Murshidabad and Birbhum. The CPI(M) alleged that in Domkal the TMC candidate Zaffikul Islam ran over there of their workers with his car. One of the workers has died, and the other two are admitted to the hospital now. This sort of thing is unheard of even in Bengal where minor clashes on the poll day are just routine incidents.
In Birbhum and Murshidabad districts, minor skirmishes erupted at many places between TMC on the one hand and BJP or Left-Congress on the other. Mayureshwar’s BJP candidate’s brother was attacked. Nanur, another constituency in Birbhum district, saw bombing and some other incidents, including a BJP booth agent allegedly being beaten with the butt of a pistol. At Hariharpara of Murshidabad, a few car windows were smashed during a clash.
However, seen from an overall perspective, the day has so far passed off without any major incident, and that brought relief to the common man. Comparatively, the constituencies of Malda district were more or less incident-free. However, in many places, people are worried about the possibility of eruption of violence before and after 2nd May, the day the votes will be counted.
Meanwhile, Anubrata Mandal, the TMC district president of Birbhum and a strongman, who has been put under strict surveillance by the Election Commission till tomorrow morning, stayed at his home for the first five hours after the polling began. In fact, the ‘khela habe’ slogan was first raised by him. After the EC imposed restrictions on him, a defiant Mandal had claimed he can ‘play’ even sitting at his home.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)