TMC and BJP activists clash at the Bhatpara where by-polls were conducted on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)
Bengal has seen one of the most bitterly fought Lok Sabha elections in recent history and the violence just doesn’t seem to end. On Sunday night, bombs were hurled at Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Madan Mitra. In retaliation, early on Monday morning, BJP leader Arjun Singh’s convoy was attacked and bombs were hurled. Singh’s PSO was injured in the attack and had to be taken to a nearby hospital. Stones were also pelted on the police and the RAF personnel.
The BJP had on Sunday accused the TMC of letting loose widespread violence in the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, and demanded repolling in several booths in eight out of the nine constituencies. Over 72 per cent of voters of the over 1.49 crore electorate exercised their franchise till 5 pm in the nine constituencies of West Bengal during the seventh and final phase of polling.
“In Diamond Harbour, Kolkata North, Kolkata South, Jadavpur, Basirhat, Mathurapur and Joynagar, there has been rampant violence. The goons of TMC didn’t allow elections in most of the booths. We would seek repoll in several booths,” senior BJP leader Mukul Roy said.
“The TMC is afraid of defeat, that is why it is resorting to violence,” BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress alleged that Central forces, taking orders from the BJP, "mercilessly beating up" citizens and its party workers. "After being briefed from BJP Headquarters, central forces are performing an unprecedented role in Bengal. They have now resorted to intimidation and torture. They are mercilessly beating up Trinamool workers. We are against violence and want the polling process to be peaceful. But the BJP are resorting to high level of violence in the Bhatpara Assembly bypoll. This is dangerous for democracy. Goons of Arjun Singh have hurled bombs and even attacked the Trinamool candidate Shri Madan Mitra," TMC MP Derek O'Brien said in a statement.
"This is a horror story being executed with the full support of central forces," the statement added.
The BJP leadership in Delhi earlier in the day urged the Election Commission to continue with the presence of central armed police forces in West Bengal till the model code of conduct period ends, as it expressed concern that the TMC may target a section of voters after polling is over.
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in the national capital that elections in six of the nine seats, which went to polls on Sunday, were marred by violence. Meanwhile, CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra accused both the TMC and the BJP of indulging in violence.