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Political squabble and violence shrouded Bengal during LS poll 2019

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Kolkata, May 08: The biggest festival of Indian democracy- the general election 2019 has commenced from 11th April 2019 that is underway and will finally end on 19th May 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.

West Bengal is polling in seven phases in this Lok Sabha poll 2019, the highest number of phases as of now, along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The division of phases largely points towards ECI's efforts to mobilise security forces on poll day to ensure 'free and fair election' in the state.

Political squabble and violence shrouded Bengal during LS poll 2019

Trinamool Congress is the single largest party in West Bengal since 2011, defeating CPI (M) that had governed the state for more than three decades. But, Bharatiya Janata Party's enormous victories in the North-eastern states, have made it more confident and will make it a potent force in the state. BJP has increased its vote share from 4% in 2011 to 17% in 2014 general elections and is hopeful of winning seats in North Bengal and the region bordering Jharkhand, and some seats in North 24 Parganas. Hence, this Lok Sabha election is undoubtedly crucial for both the parties- the TMC and the Saffron brigade.

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All these 42 crucial Lok Sabha seats are up for grabs. EC keeps an eagle eye on every booth as reports of clashes were observed in some polling booths in West Bengal during the phase 1 to phase 5 of this general election.

The following incidents that took place during all the five phases of general election 2019 has disparaged Bengal politics:

LS polls 2019 phase 1- The first phase of general election 2019 took place on April 11 and no major clash were reported on this day in West Bengal. The voting percentage for the first phase in West Bengal was recorded 81%.

LS polls 2019 phase 2- April 18, on the second phase of the general election while overall voting ended smoothly, there were a few minor unexpected incidents in which a Congress activist was killed in a clash with rival CPM supporters while police took 35 people into custody, of which 32 were preventive arrests. Reports also claims that a polling agent of a CPM candidate in Murshidabad was taken into custody after 25 postal ballots were found in his possession.

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Party activists of CPM and the Congress reportedly clashed outside a polling station at Beldanga of Murhisdabad district, leading into their arrests. A presiding officer in Ranaghat South constituency in Nadia district was replaced for influencing voters inside the polling station and another officer in Bharatpur constituency in Murshidabad district was replaced after he fell sick.

LS polls 2019 Phase 3- The third phase of Lok Sabha 2019 election was held on April 23. Reportedly, in West Bengal's Murshidabad, a voter was hacked to death at a polling booth during a conflict between the Congress and Trinamool Congress parties. Few others were also injured in the clashes in some other parts of the state as polling was held in five different constituencies. Explosives were reportedly hurled outside a booth in Balurghat in West Bengal, the forces lathicharged a mob in Suti area of Jangipur. Reports of conflict were also noticed in the conflicting areas like Chopra and Islampur.

LS polls 2019 phase 4- Clashes broke out in Asansol area of West Bengal hours later the fourth phase of the general election began on April 29. Violent clashes and political squabble shrouded the fourth phase.

Major incidents that took place on this day were - BJP candidate and union leader Babul Supriyo's vehicle was reportedly vandalized outside a polling booth. According to report, places like Suri and Nalhati (Birbhum), Nanoor (Bolpur) and Barabani (Asansol) saw pitched battles between party workers involving sharp weapons and sticks.

The Congress candidate and incumbent MP Adhir Chowdhury alleged he was forced to chase away some people who allegedly came to cast fake votes in KN College in Berhampore.

LS polls 2019 phase 5- Sporadic incidents of violence were reported on May 6 during polling in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha election in West Bengal. Violence and snags in EVMs were reported as voters queued up outside booths in the initial hours on this day. On this day the heaviest polling was recorded in this state- 73.97%-for seven seats that went to the polls.

Reportedly, several journalist who were attacked allegedly by the TMC workers. The Editors Guild of India has urged the Election Commission to take action against those who attacked journalists in West Bengal during the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 6.

As the polling proceeded reports of violence started soaring from constituencies like Barrackpore, Howrah and Hooghly. Barrackpore BJP candidate Arjun Singh was allegedly injured after a clash erupted between the TMC and the BJP workers. Singh also alleged that the miscreants were trying to intimidate voters.

On this crucial day reports of violence also came from Bongaon constituency. Explosives were hurled at police forces in which a police constable and a TMC worker were critically injured.

Locket Chatterjee, the BJP candidate in Hooghly claimed that the state police forces were encouraging and facilitating rigging in some booths at Dhanekhali area in Hooghly district of West Bengal.

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However, the presiding officer denied such allegations and said that 712 of around 1200 votes were already polled when Chatterjee stormed into the polling booth and accused the officials of rigging.

Following the allegation, a miscreant took a chance of entering the booth and breaking the EVM.

In another incident on this day TMC candidate, Prasun Bandyopadhyay was reportedly heckled near a polling booth in Howrah.

Now, the eyes are at the sixth phase poll which will held on May 12 is perhaps the most crucial one in West Bengal, as most of these constituencies are dominated by tribals.

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