India

Violence, Allegations, Face-Offs: Phase Two of West Bengal Elections Witnessed Complete Chaos

India’s West Bengal state assembly elections are being held in eight phases this year, starting 27 March. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making efforts to replace the Trinamool government, which is led by Mamata Banerjee and has been governing the state for the past 10 years.

Several incidents of violence, including face-offs between workers from the two main contenders in the election – the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janta Party – marked the second phase of polling in India’s West Bengal assembly on Thursday.

Voting was taking place in as many as 30 constituencies in the second phase of West Bengal elections and all eyes were on Nandigram, the constituency of state chief, Mamata Banerjee.

As the voting started for the second phase, both the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) traded allegations of booth capturing and violence reported in some constituencies, especially in the Nandigram area.

​State Chief Mamata Banerjee visited various polling booths in her constituency to take stock of the situation after reports of violence and booth jamming.

Earlier in the day, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, standing against Banerjee in Nandigram, alleged that his convoy was attacked by TMC supporters and he advised his opponent  Banerjee not to indulge in hooliganism.

​An agitated Banerjee hit back at the Election Commission of India for not taking any action despite her having made several complaints and threatened to take her worries to court. She had alleged that BJP workers were indulging in “booth capturing”.

Later, Banerjee phoned the office of the Governor and Election Commission and lodged a strong protest. TMC has filed 63 complaints so far in connection with the matter. 

​The state chief also questioned Prime minister Narendra Modi’s intentions in West Bengal saying it is a violation of the model code of conduct. “Why does Narendra Modi come to Bengal on every polling day? Why will he campaign on election day? If we cannot campaign in election areas then why can he address the people with all facilities including Doordarshan (the national TV service) on polling day? Is it not a violation of the model code of conduct?” Banerjee fumed. 

Her remarks came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held rallies in Jaynagar and Uluberia on Thursday.

While campaigning, the prime minister took a dig at the state chief and said she was nervous about losing in Nandigram and suggested that she was desperate enough to consider a second constituency.

“Didi (Banerjee), is there any truth in the rumour that you are going to file your nomination from another constituency? First you went (to Nandigram) and people gave you an answer. If you go somewhere else, people of Bengal are ready to give you the right answer,” said PM Modi during his speech.

However, sources in Banerjee’s party, the TMC, said in response to Modi’s jibes that “she is winning Nandigram comfortably”.

According to the Election Commission of India, more than 80 percent of voters turned out – the highest voting was in Bankura and the lowest in Paschim Medinipur.

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