38% polling in Bengal LS seats, BJP worker killed

Kolkata, May 12 : A BJP worker was killed in West Bengal’s Jhargram while Trinamool supporters sustained bullet injuries in West Midnapore by midday during the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polling on Sunday that was marred by a number of violent incidents and bids to intimidate voters.

Despite the clashes, nearly 38 per cent of 1,33,56,964 voters registered their votes till 11 a.m. in the eight constituencies spread across five districts, where polling began at 7 a.m. and would continue till 6 p.m., a poll data said.

Jhargram recorded the highest at 41.87 per cent, Tamluk(41.20), Ghatal (39.41), Kanthi (37.53), Bishnupur (37.5), Medinipur (37.42), Purulia (35.78) and Bankura (33.07).

There are 83 candidates in the fray in the penultimate phase in the state that is scheduled to poll in all of the seven phases.

Violence was reported from various parts of the state, even before polling began as a middle-aged BJP activist was killed in Jhargramin the tribal heartland.

Ramen Singh, 30, from Jhargram constituency’s Gopiballabpur sustained a grievous head injury after being hit with an iron rod. He was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, police said.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is aiming to make it big in the state this time, this phase is perhaps the most crucial. It includes four constituencies with sizeable tribal population.

In East Midnapore’s Kanthi, shots were fired by unidentified assailants injuring at least two Trinamool activists, who were rushed to a hospital in Kolkata.

Incidents of violence and clashes were reported from Midnapore where the saffron party’s state unit chief Dilip Ghosh is engaged in a high profile battle with Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Manas Bhunia.

At least four Trinamool Party activists had to be hospitalised after being attacked with sharp objects allegedly by BJP supporters. The condition of one person was said to be critical, Bhunia said.

In other incidents, a Trinamool camp office at Belda was ransacked allegedly by BJP workers and four activists of state’s ruling party were injured.

Trinamool workers staged a protest demonstration against the BJP’s state President, who was denied entry into polling booths in Rampura area of Midnapore town where alleged proxy voting by Trinamool supporters was reported.

Meanwhile, a number of BJP supporters got injured in the constituency’s Datan area following a clash with some Trinamool workers.

BJP candidate from West Midnapore district’s Ghatal and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh was stopped from entering a polling booth at Keshpur by a group of women, said to be Trinamool Congress workers, who accused her of influencing the voters.

Ghosh, a former IPS, retorted that the ruling party was involved in organised violence and demanded that the offenders be immediately arrested.

Later, bricks were pelted at her convoy near Keshpur, injuring one of her security guards as her car along with some other vehicles belonging to the media was vandalised.

Her security personnel claimed they had to fire in the air in a bid to control the situation and to save their own lives. However, a Trinamool worker was said to have sustained a bullet injury due the firing.

Ghosh alleged she was also assaulted by the agitating Trinamool supporters.

A total of 770 companies of central forces have been deployed in the state’s tribal heartland, as well as the seats in Junglemahal, once a hotbed of Maoist activities.

According to an analysis done by the West Bengal Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, 16 candidates have assets worth over Rs 1 crore and 28 have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The seventh and final phase of polling in the state will be held on May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.

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