Kolkata: Around 64.35 percent of over seven lakh electorate on Monday cast votes in the bypolls to three Assembly seats in Bengal till 3 pm, an EC official said, amid allegations that TMC activists orchestrated an attack on BJP candidate from Karimpur segment, Jay Prakash Majumdar.
Besides Karimpur, bypolls are also underway in Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj Assembly seats. TV footages showed Majumdar, who is also the state BJP vice-president, being beaten up, kicked and pushed into a bush by miscreants at Phipulkhola area of Nadia district.
Holding TMC "goons" responsible for the act, he said, "Wounds would heal but the incident was a clear sign of the end of democracy" in West Bengal. Several TMC supporters raised "go back" slogans at another poll booth the BJP leader visited during the day. The police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.
Majumdar alleged that the TMC had planted fake voters in the area to rig the polls. "But all these will not demoralise me and I will continue to visit all booths. I have complained to the Election Commission," Majumdar said. Denying the allegations as "baseless", the Nadia district unit of the TMC said locals had attacked Majumdar as they were angry with him for "vitiating" the poll atmosphere.
Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy shot off a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, seeking his intervention into the matter and accused the TMC of "turning the election into farce in connivance with police and administration".
Union Minister Babul Supriyo also condemned the incident and sought an apology from the TMC. State minister and TMC leader Rajib Banerjee said the incident was pre-planned by the saffron party "to gain sympathy on the day of polls".
According to sources, the EC has sought reports about the incident. In Kharagpur Sadar, 57.11 percent of 2.25 lakh voters cast their votes till 3 pm, the official said. Kaliaganj with 2.69 lakh electorate, and Karimpur with 2.4 lakh electorate recorded 65 and 71 percent votes respectively, he said.
Over seven lakh people are deciding the fate of 18 candidates in the three constituencies. In Kaliaganj constituency, BJP candidate Kamal Chandra Sarkar was allegedly seen helping his wife cast her vote. The TMC has lodged a complaint with the poll panel, which said that the matter was being looked into.
Two of the three Assembly constituencies, Kharagpur Sadar and Karimpur, fell vacant post general election as the sitting MLAs contested and won Lok Sabha seats. Bypolls were necessitated in Kaliaganj following the death of Congress MLA Parmathanath Roy.
Congress nominee Dhitashree Roy, supported by the CPI(M), is pitted against TMC's Tapan Deb Sinha and BJP's Kamal Chandra Sarkar in Kaliaganj. In Karimpur, vacated by TMC MLA Mahua Moitra after emerging victorious from Krishnnanagar Lok Sabha seat, the CPI(M)-Congress candidate Gholam Rabbi is contesting against
BJP's Jay Prakash Majumdar and the ruling party's Bimalendu Singha Roy. Prem Chandra Jha of the saffron party is taking on Chittaranjan Mandal of the Congress-CPI(M) alliance and Pradip Sarkar of the TMC in Kharagpur Sadar, vacated by BJP MLA Dilip Ghosh after winning Medinipur Lok Sabha seat.
Bypolls to the three Assembly seats will be a litmus test for the TMC and the BJP, ahead of the 2021 state elections. The results will be declared on 28 November.
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Updated Date: Nov 25, 2019 18:11:31 IST