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West Bengal panchayat polls updates: Voting in Cooch Behar, 18 other districts underway amid tight security

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West Bengal panchayat polls updates: Voting in Cooch Behar, 18 other districts underway amid tight security
  • 17:20 (IST)

    Rampant rigging, misuse of ballot papers should settle debate over EVMs once and for all 

    If the West Bengal panchayat polls has settled one debate, it is the specious and mischievous Opposition narrative on ballot papers. BJP's pan-Indian dominance had frustrated the Opposition to such an extent that Congress leaders (and many regional satraps started raising questions on EVMs and advocating a return to ballot papers. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, too, had joined the chorus, arguing that "EVMs can be tampered with, so let’s go back to the old system". The developments in West Bengal during the panchayat polls (where ballot papers were used instead of EVMs) showed conclusively which tool is vulnerable to exploitation and which isn't. Whereas the EVMs have ensured truly free and fair elections, a number of instances in Bengal regarding ballot papers proved how these can be easily misused to rig the polls.  

  • 16:03 (IST)

    SEC has not heeded to the gravity of the situation: BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya

    BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya says that SEC has been informed about the repeated incidents of violence but no one has heeded to the gravity of the situation. While enlisting the different cases in which BJP workers were attacked, he goes onto say how hard it is to have a fair election in a state where innumerable people have been disrupting counting.  

    He says people are ready to vote against TMC as soon as they get the chance to vote in a smooth, peaceful election.

  • 15:51 (IST)

    BJP reinforces status as principal Opposition force but remains distant second due to a cocktail of reasons

    It is always risky to read into results that are as skewed as those in West Bengal panchayat polls where the discourse has revolved around not whether there was free and fair elections but whether the number of political murders are less this time compared to earlier instances. Yet, the pattern that emerges even from such a subverted democratic exercise is the clear emergence of BJP as the principal Opposition force in Bengal. However, the fact remains that it is a distant second. Despite its upward curve, the party remains organisationally disjointed, structurally weak and severely lacking in leadership.

    It is a far cry from its presence elsewhere in India where BJP expands its base and organisational strength gradually and methodically. Its stunted growth in Bengal owes to two reasons. One, infighting within own ranks and two, inability to match up to TMC's vastly superior ground game. The difference between BJP's rise in Bengal and elsewhere in India is that while in other parts of the country it can grow relatively unhindered, in Bengal and Kerala it is facing organised and violent resistance from respective political rivals. In Kerala it is the Left, while in Bengal it is the TMC. 

    It isn't a coincidence that in both places Left is and was the dominant political force. While it continues to remain in power in the southern state, in Bengal it has been replaced by a party that has adopted many traits of Leftist ideological traits and has completely replaced the Left Front as a political and ideological force. Therefore, it can be said that TMC is a neo-Left (a tougher version under 'strong' leader who has an autocratic style of functioning). It is evident that BJP is finding it tough to expand in both places.

    However, it would be unwise to attribute Opposition's dismal performance to lack of strength alone. Even on counting day, incidents of violence are being reported from different parts of the state. Amid such a situation, BJP has done well in Purulia, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and even in Jhargram. However, the pie chart of Bengal is overwhelmingly green, though the path to it has been paved through red.

  • 15:40 (IST)

    Police use tear gas shells to control tension in Cooch Behar's counting centre

    While police tried to control tension at a counting centre in Cooch Behar by firing tear gas shells, in Domjur people tried to rob ballot papers. TMC workers allegedly tried to appropriate and rip ballot papers, as a result of which police had to resort to lathicharge.- News 18

  • 15:23 (IST)

    Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad

    TMC is leading in 32 seats in Hooghly district and has won the seat of Raghunathpur. Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad so far. TMC won Purba Bardhaman zilla parishad.

  • 15:01 (IST)

    In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled amid tension

    In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled as there has been reports of renewed tension Purulia's Nituria witnessed violence. 

  • 14:52 (IST)

    West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose says that only one party is not winning the elections

    West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose said only it is not a one-sided win for the ruling party, BJP is still a part of the race. 

  • 14:47 (IST)

    Machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes

    In 14 May elections for 621 zila parishad, 6,123 panchayat samity and 31,802 gram panchayat seats in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress is on the course to improve even its 2013 tally where it won zila parishads in 13 out of 17 districts, 1,745 out of 3,215 gram panchayat seats and 192 out of 329 panchayat samities. The current leads and trends reveal that the TMC is on course to gain at least 10 percent more seats in the three-tier panchayat polls establishing over 90 percent dominance.    

    Given the level of TMC's dominance and lack of Opposition strength, the question is why does the ruling party feel the need to indulge in such nihilism and mindless violence during polls. Even during the day of counting, disturbing reports are emerging from all across the state of subversion of democracy. In one place, machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes while in some cases more ballot papers are discovered than the total number of voters, while in some cases ballot papers are allegedly being stamped while counting is one in full view of TV cameras. Already, 27 people have died (mostly Opposition political workers cutting across political divides) including a presiding officer whose mutilated body was discovered near railway tracks in North Dinajpur on Tuesday. 

  • 14:42 (IST)

    TMC wins Ranigunj which falls under Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency

    The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) wins Ranigunj Panchayat Samiti in Burdwan west district. Ranigunj is under BJP's Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency. In neighbouring Purulia, tension surfaced outside a counting centre in Kashipur where Opposition party candididates were allegedly trashed.- News 18

  • 14:32 (IST)

    Watch: Police lathi charge TMC, BJP workers who clashed outside a counting centre in Birbhum

  • 14:18 (IST)

    BJP workers, police clash in Birbhum's Mallarpur

    Image courtesy: News18

  • 13:38 (IST)

    BJP shares video of TMC worker stamping ballot papers in Nadia district's Majdia constituency

    BJP lashed out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the video of an man — allegedly a TMC worker — barging into a poll booth and stamping the ballot papers. "Democracy murdered in each phase of nomination, voting to counting," it said in a tweet.

  • 13:16 (IST)

    'Murder of democracy' in West Bengal: TMC worker stamps ballot papers in booth; act caught on tape

    If there's one picture that catches in a nutshell the "murder of democracy" in West Bengal, it is the image of a political worker, allegedly from the ruling party, barging into a counting centre in Nadia district's Majdia constituency and stamp ballot papers right in front of cameras. The footage, aired by local TV channel ABP Ananda, is a pointer to the blatant subversion of democracy in West Bengal under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, who is trying to fashion herself as the leader of the Opposition coalition against prime minister Narendra Modi.

    According to media reports, local TMC goons barged into the booth when it was found that a Left Front candidate was leading. Widespread violence in Bengal over the polls has already claimed the lives of 27 people (including a presiding officer) while more than 70 have been injured. Repolling has been ordered in 572 booths. 

  • 12:57 (IST)

    TMC workers celebrate as party leads across 20 districts

  • 12:47 (IST)

    TMC won 576 gram panchayats

    According to News18, results till 12 pm for 656 out of 3254 gram panchayats in West Bengal (including uncontested wins) show TMC won 576,  BJP 47, Congress at 8, Left Front 6 and others at 19.

  • 12:22 (IST)

    Indications are clear: TMC is the most dominant political force in West Bengal

    A quick glance at the results declared so far confirms the pattern of panchayat polls in West Bengal, where the ruling Trinamool Congress is head and shoulders ahead of its rivals; only the most powerful pair of binoculars may be able to trace the Opposition's presence. For instance, out of the 2,592 seats in East Midnapore gram panchayat, results are out in 419 till noon (remember, these are paper ballots). Of these, TMC is ahead in 390 seats, BJP in 14, while the Left Front is ahead in 9. In West Midnapore, out of 665 seats, the TMC is ahead in 608, BJP in 42 and the Left in 3. In Malda, the TMC is ahead in 247 seats so far, BJP in 21 while Left is ahead in 5. In Jhargram gram panchayat, the TMC is ahead in 190 seats, BJP in 51 and Left in 14. The same pattern is visible in panchayat samiti and zilla parishad seats. 

    The indications are clear. TMC is not only the ruling party in Bengal, it is also the most dominant political force. The BJP is clearly the chief Opposition party while the Left Front is a poor third, and Congress is non-existent. The panchayat polls are following the same template that we have noticed in every election in Bengal, be it in civic body or Assembly polls. 

  • 12:04 (IST)

    CPM accuses TMC workers of violence in Bhatar village

    The CPM has accused some TMC workers of assaulting its party agents in Bhatar village in East Bardhaman district, according to News18. The police have resorted to lathi charge outside a counting centre at Englishbazar in Malda, 

  • 11:53 (IST)

    Congress alleges TMC-backed goons shot one of their supporters dead in South Dinajpur's Chopra

    According to News18, Congress supporters have blocked NH-31 after accusing TMC-backed criminals of shooting one of their supporters during clashes outside a counting centre in South Dinajpur. The police have denied that the incident took place. 

  • 11:38 (IST)

    TMC leading in 1,208 seats, wins 110

    The counting is still underway in all the districts with panchayati raj insitutions. Out of the total 31,814 that were up for grabs, the TMC has won 110 and is leading in 1,208 other seats, according to ANI. Meanwhile, the BJP has won only 4 and  is leading in 81. The CPM has won 3 seats so far and has a lead in 58.

  • 11:33 (IST)

    TMC has maintained its victory march unabated

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had upped the ante in his speech to BJP functionaries on the day of polling in Karnataka, highlighting the "murder of democracy" in state. He had pointed out how violence had taken centre stage and every attempt was made to stifle the voice of the people. Given Bengal's gory history and tradition of violence, this wasn't surprising, much less so with Trinamool Congress at helm which has shown itself to be quite adept at learning the "art of election" from the Left.

    Results pouring in from different corners of the state bear the truth of this statement. TMC has maintained its victory march unabated, and in most places its tally has already reached four figures in gram panchayat seats while the Opposition parties are yet to open account on counting day. 

  • 11:17 (IST)

    TMC's Arabul Islam wins from Bhangar

    TMC leader Arabul Islam wins from Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district, reports News18. Arabul was recently arrested, in connection with killing of an Independent candidate Hafizul Mollah. Mollah was shot dead when he was taking part in a rally in Bhangar on 11 May.

  • 10:55 (IST)

    TMC leading in all 20 districts

    According to early trends, the ruling TMC is leading in all 20 districts which have the panchayati raj institutions in West Bengal. 

  • 10:29 (IST)

    Police seize 40 mobile phones from counting centre at Jalpaiguri

    There are several restrictions on the usage of mobile phone at counting centres. According to an order by the State Election Commission, if counting personnel and counting agents, too, have to deposit their phones at counters against tokens. 

    Check LIVE trends for West Bengal Panchayat Election 2018

  • 10:09 (IST)

    TMC already won 34% seats uncontested

    The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal has already won several seats in the gram panchayat polls. The data released by the West Bengal Election Commission shows that 34.2 percent or 20,076 of the 58,692 seats were uncontested in the panchayat elections. A majority of the uncontested seats were automatically won by the candidates of the ruling TMC.

    Click here to read more

  • 09:42 (IST)

    Visuals from one counting centre in 24 North Parganas

  • 09:33 (IST)

    Counting underway in six districts of North Bengal

    Counting of votes has begun in Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Malda districts of North Bengal.

  • 09:17 (IST)

    Counting delayed at a counting centre in North 24 Parganas district

  • 08:54 (IST)

    'Bottom's up' method likely for counting

    The counting of votes is likely to be held in the sequence of gram panchayat-panchayat samiti-zilla parishad on Thursday.

    The Telegraph reported that this method will fuel concerns over the security of the counting centres. The 'bottom's up' sequence is in line with the West Bengal Panchayat Elections Rules, 2006 and has been followed in all rural elections since 1978, except in 2008.

  • 08:32 (IST)

    Counting begins 

    The counting of votes has begun amid tight security. Counting for gram panchayats will be held first, followed by that of panchayat amiti and zilla parishad, according to DNA. The Election Commission has asked the counting to be wrapped up in 2 to 3 rounds. 

  • 08:26 (IST)

    Fear of violence grips West Bengal

    Violence is expected in West Bengal during and after the counting of votes on Thursday. According to NDTV, after poll officer Rajkumar Roy's body was found in North Dinajpur, some poll officers in the district threatened to boycott poll duty without the assurance proper security. They held a protest on Wednesday in Raiganj and blocked National Highway 34 for hours over this demand.

  • 07:58 (IST)

    What's happening in West Bengal is unbelievable, says BJP's Sambit Patra

    Reacting to the death of poll official Rajkumar Roy in North Dinajpur district, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra lashed out at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for "crying foul" of democracy being murdered. "What’s happening in Bengal is unbelievable," he said in a tweet.

    Quoting the district administration, Livemint reported that an arm of the state police had been directed to probe the poll official's death. Roy had gone missing from the polling booth on 14 May. 

  • 07:35 (IST)

    Poll official found dead near railway tracks

    A poll official, Rajkumar Roy, who went missing on the polling day on 14 May, was found dead near the railway tracks in North Dinajpur district. DNA reported that the State Election Commission, however, does not feel that the death may not be connected to poll violence. 

    Tweeting with the hashtag 'Save Bengal', he BJP alleged that the Roy was kidnapped on duty from polling booth before being "murdered".

  • 07:20 (IST)

    Around 68% voter turnout for repolling

    Quoting a West Bengal Election Commission official, DNA reported that around 68 per cent polling was recorded on Wednesday."The repoll has been more or less peaceful," he said. Earlier, the State Election Commission had earmarked 568 booths but it later increased to 572 booths

  • 06:32 (IST)

    Democracy murdered in Bengal, says former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee

    Criticising the West Bengal Election Commission for "failing to conduct free and fair" panchayat elections, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday said democracy has been murdered in the state.

    "What we had seen on the day of panchayat polls was unprecedented. Was this the way rural polls were being conducted in the state? State Election Commission failed to conduct free and fair polls. Democracy has been brutally murdered in the state," he said.

    Chatterjee said that many people were killed during the campaign and also on polling day and the administration was busy either hiding the number of casualties or blaming others. "The fight should be between ideologies not between political activists. This is shameful to witness such things happening in Bengal where people are not allowed to exercise their democratic right," said former CPM leader and MP.

  • 06:19 (IST)

    What happened during panchayat polls on 14 May

    Despite massive security arrangements, widespread violence marred the panchayat polls. Clashes between the supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Opposition parties occurred in many parts of the state including North and South 24 Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad and South Dinajpur districts.

    More than 60,000 security personnel from West Bengal and neighbouring states were deployed for the panchayat polls on Monday.

  • 06:12 (IST)

    Centre asks West Bengal govt to send another report on panchayat poll violence
    The Centre on Wednesday termed as "sketchy" details on the panchayat polls violence and asked the West Bengal government to send another report, an official said.
    The second communication was sent two days after a similar one following large-scale violence during the elections to the local bodies in the state on Monday. Over a dozen lives were lost in the violence.
    The Union home ministry has asked the West Bengal government to provide a detailed report on the violence during the polls as the report the state government had sent was "sketchy", the official said. The state government has been told to provide details on the circumstances leading to the violence and the steps taken to restore peace and punish those involved.

  • 06:11 (IST)

    Counting expected to begin at 7 am

    The repolling in 568 booths across West Bengal from where the State Election Commission (SEC) received complaints of violence during the panchayat poll was held on Wednesday amid tight security.
    The booths where repolling has been held are spread in 19 out of 20 districts of the state where the rural polls were held on Monday. The state government and the police were asked by the SEC to make elaborate security arrangements to allow repolling to be held in a free and fair manner.

  • 06:07 (IST)

    Updates begin for 17 May, Thursday

  • 13:51 (IST)

    Watch: Miscreants flee with ballot box in Malda district

  • 10:13 (IST)

    Voting underway in Cooch Behar, Raiganj amid tight security

    Repolling has been ordered in 10 booths in Hooghly, 28 booths in West Midnapore, 52 booths in Coochbehar, 63 booths in Murshidabad, 60 booths in Nadia, 59 booths in North 24 Parganas, 55 booths in Malda, 73 booths in Uttar Dinajpur and 26 in South 24 Pargans among others.

  • 09:33 (IST)

    Voting underway in Jalpaiguri's Shikarpur amid tight security

  • 09:24 (IST)

    Jhargram only district to have no repolling

    Re-election is being held in 19 of the 20 West Bengal districts for the Panchayati Raj institutions that went to the polls on 14 May. Jhargram is the only district where there would be no repolling.

  • 08:58 (IST)

     Visuals of voters queuing up in Bagdah in North 24 Parganas district

  • 08:47 (IST)

    After polling on Monday, bombs were hurled at 20 houses in clash between TMC workers, BJP activists

    Post-poll violence was reported from parts of Howrah district on Monday where bombs were hurled at at least 20 houses during a clash between Trinamool Congress workers and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists. A few vehicles were also vandalised and torched.

    Sporadic incidents of violence took place in South and North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts late on Monday.

    Click here to read more

  • 08:07 (IST)

    Repolling was ordered after several candidates met SEC officials

    Aggrieved by the violence that marked Monday's panchayat polls in West Bengal, several candidates who were in the fray had met the State Election Commission (SEC) officials and demanded repolling in their booths on Tuesday.

    “I have come here to inform the SEC about yesterday’s violence in my locality. Free and fair election did not take place in my area,” Etajul, an independent candidate from Bhangore in South 24 Parganas district, had told PTI.

    The SEC ordered the re-election following the demand for it.

  • 08:01 (IST)

    MHA has sought report from West Bengal govt over poll violence

    Violence was reported in a number of places during panchayat polls which was held on 14 May. In the wake of violence that left at least 10 dead, the Central government sought a report from the West Bengal government.

    "Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the West Bengal government in view of the violence during panchayat elections," a senior Home Ministry official said. However, Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha said that the death toll and violence was "far lesser than in the past".


  • 07:46 (IST)

    Re-election to take place till 5 pm; Counting of votes on 17 May
    Repolling, which will be held on Wednesday from 7 am till 5 pm, has been ordered in 10 booths in Hooghly, 28 booths in West Midnapore, 52 booths in Coochbehar, 63 booths in Murshidabad, 60 booths in Nadia, 59 booths in North 24 Parganas, 55 booths in Malda, 73 booths in Uttar Dinajpur, 26 in South 24 Parganas, among others.
    The State Election Commission had asked the West Bengal government and the police to make elaborate security arrangements to ensure that the repolling can be held in a free and fair manner.

  • 07:41 (IST)

    PM's comments outbursts of frustration: TMC

    Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "unwarranted comments" on panchayat polls in West Bengal, the TMC today said Modi's remarks were
    out of frustration as the BJP could not win a majority in Karnataka.
    "These comments are basically outbursts of frustration as his party has failed to reach the majority mark in Karantaka polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before questioning us, should answer on the anarchy that his party has created throughout the country," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.

  • 07:21 (IST)

    West Bengal poll violence 'murder of democracy', says Narendra Modi

    As Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attacked the Mamata Banerjee government over violence in the panchayat polls in West Bengal, the state's ruling Trinamool Congress called it "outbursts of frustration".

    "People weren't allowed to file nominations. People from all parties except one ruling the state have suffered. Workers of these parties were killed. This is serious. A land as great as West Bengal had to see such things. It is unfortunate," Modi said.

    He was addressing workers at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s central office in the national capital after the party emerged as the single-largest party in the Karnataka Assembly polls. "Where is the spirit of democracy?" Modi asked.

    Click here to read more

West Bengal panchayat polls LIVE updates: Voting is underway in 568 polling booths across 19 of the 20 West Bengal districts for the Panchayati Raj institutions that went to the polls on 14 May. Voters began queuing up outside booths since the repolling began at 7 am.

Widespread violence during the panchayat polls in West Bengal on Monday left at least 12 people dead and 43 injured.

The state government and the police have been asked to make elaborate security arrangements so that polling can be held in a free and fair manner, the SEC official said.

Jhargram is the only district where there would be no repolling.

Uttar Dinajpur has the most booths (73) where the re-election will be conducted, followed by Murshidabad (63) and Nadia (60) while Aliporeduar (2) and West Burwan (3) have the least number of booths where repolling will be held.

Repolling will be held from 7 am till 5 pm.

Polling for electing 38,616 representatives across the three tiers of West Bengal rural bodies was held in more than 58,000 booths across the state on 14 May.

The SEC official also said that the final voting percentage of Monday had gone up to 82.13 percent from 73 percent.

Opposition parties have accused the TMC of "unleashing a reign of terror and destroying democracy". The TMC, however, has termed the allegations as "baseless".

Aggrieved by the violence that marked yesterday's panchayat polls in West Bengal, several candidates who were in the fray met State Election Commission (SEC) officials and demanded repolling in their booths.

"I have come here to inform the SEC about Monday's violence in my locality. Free and fair election did not take place in my area," said Etajul, an independent candidate from Bhangore in South 24 Parganas district.

Candidates from political parties also met the SEC officials to request repoll in their seats.

Various non-political organizations conducted sit-in demonstrations outside the SEC office in protest against Monday's violence.

West Bengal Panchayat Election RESULTS

Updated Date: May 17, 2018 17:20 PM

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