Canvassing ends for final phase in Bengal

Kolkata: Campaigning for the sixth and final phase of the West Bengal assembly elections ended on Tuesday evening as 25 assembly seats, including 16 in Purba Medinipur and nine in Coochbehar districts, go to polls on Thursday.

Addressing party rallies at Mathabhnaga, Dinhata and Mekhliganj, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee again targeted the BJP, CPI (M) and the Congress, accusing them of conspiring against her party. Saying that her party will not allow the division of Bengal, Banerjee added that politics of division cannot be allowed just for the sake of votes.

BJP leader Shah Nawaz Hussain led a party procession at Pundibari Market in Coochbehar North constituency and addressed party meetings. BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh has said that the post election violence in the state signifies that the ruling TMC has lost the polls.

Congress and Left leaders also brought out processions and organised meetings in Purba Medinipur.

In all, 67 candidates are in the fray for nine seats in Coochbehar, 12 of them are independents. In Purba Medinipur, a total of 103 candidates are contesting for 16 seats, 12 of these are Independents. Until now, five rounds of the ongoing elections for the 294-seat West Bengal Assembly have been completed in six polling days.

Counting of votes will be held on 19th May. Deputy Election Commissioner Sanjeev Saxena this afternoon took a video conference meeting from New Delhi with State CEO, top officials of the state and district authorities to review the poll-arrangements.

The Election Commission has put in place strict security measures for the final phase of voting. In all, 361 companies of Central security forces have been deployed in both the districts.

In Purba Medinipur 7, 500 State Police personnel and in Coochbehar 4, 500 policemen are being deployed to assist the Central forces in peaceful polling.

In Coochbehar’s five assembly constituencies, over 9,500 new Indian citizens have been enrolled to vote for the first time ever. They are the residents of 51 former Indo-Bangladesh enclaves, locally known as Sabeki Chheetmahal.

The CPI (M) on Tuesday complained to the Election Commission that a TMC MP from Purba Medinipur has held a secret meeting with seven Officers-in-Charge of local Police stations ahead of the Thursday’s polling to manage the Central forces.

Left party’s state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra told mediapersons here that the TMC MP handed over funds to the Police officers in the May 1 meeting held late at night at Panshkura in Medinipur.

The money was given for serving lavish refreshments to the Central force Jawans deputed for polling duty, he alleged.

The CPI (M) district secretary filed a formal complaint in this regard with the Commission.

Reacting to the CPI (M) allegations, the TMC MP from the district mocked the Left party, saying that their leaders are imagining things. TMC leader Partha Chatterjee said Mishra’s charge is baseless and by levelling such accusations he will lose relevance.

Meanwhile, reports of post-poll violence from South 24-Paragans continued today.

Three Left supporter women voters were brutally beaten and the ear of one of them was chopped off allegedly by TMC activists in Canning Purba last night. A poultry farm run by a CPI (M) youth leader was burnt down at Bauipur.

As many as 16 TMC activists today surrendered in a city court and were subsequently released on bail bonds.

They are accused in a police case for attacking several houses of Left supporters and beating them including a CPI (M) polling agent on Monday night at Baghajatin in Kolkata. (ANI)