52 per cent polling amid violence in Kolkata civic polls

Kolkata, Apr 18: Amid reports of violence, polling for the 144-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation on Saturday witnessed 52 per cent turnout in the first six hours, a state Election Commission official said.

Opposition parties accused the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of resorting to violent tactics but the ruling party has rubbished the charges and claimed the polls have been peaceful.

Kolkata polls: 52% polling till 1pm

"Till 1 pm, 52 per cent of polling was registered. We have received several complaints of violence and are verifying them from our poll observers and police officers. Most of the complaints are from the opposition parties," the official said.

[Trinamool set to sweep Kolkata civic polls: Survey]

Alleging widespread violence, the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said the election was being controlled by the TMC and not by the poll panel.

"Since the start of polling, there has been widespread violence. The TMC has unleashed violence in at least 30 wards where it knows it will not win. At least 75 people have been injured but the Election Commission is keeping mum," CPI-M leader Sunjan Chakraborty said.

"We have filed 14 complaints with the commission, but no action has been taken. The poll is controlled not by the Election Commission but by outside elements of the Trinamool," added Chakrabarty.

CPI-M leader Fuad Halim filed a police complaint alleging the TMC miscreants fired bullets in his direction.

"The bike-borne assailants fired three rounds towards me but I managed to escape unhurt. The attackers are well known as Trinamool activists," said Halim.

Congress leader Santosh Pathak, too, made similar accusations, claiming three of his party people received injuries after TMC goons hurled crude bombs at them.

The BJP, too, has filed complaints, accusing the TMC polling agents of resorting to unfair means and influencing voters.

Two polling agents of the TMC were caught on camera directing voters to vote for their party.

[Campaigning ends for Kolkata civic polls]

The Trinamool, though, has claimed the polls have been peaceful.

"I would urge all the people to come out and vote without any fear. The opposition is trying to create panic by shouting terror but not even a single bullet has been fired or a bomb exploded so far," Trinamool leader and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim said.

On the security front, nearly 30,000 police personnel and three companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed while drones are being used for aerial surveillance for the first time.

A total of 3,742,019 voters, including 17.52 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise across 4,704 polling stations to decide the political fate of 1,077 candidates in the fray.

The counting of votes is scheduled for April 28.

The voters' lists for the first time includes 20 voters under the third gender category.


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