Kolkata civic polls campaign ends amidst violence

POLL COMMISSIONER BRIEFS GOVERNOR

A man walk past an online broadcasting van of a TV channel with civic poll coverage logo printed on its exterior.
A man walks past an online broadcasting van of a TV channel with civic poll coverage logo printed on its exterior. In Kolkata.

By bappaditya paul

CAMPAIGNING FOR THE 18 APRIL Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls ended at 5 pm on Thursday amidst sporadic violence in several parts of the city and the state election commissioner apprising the Governor on the overall situation. 

Bengal poll commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya told media persons in the evening that the three companies of Central forces that were being made available for the KMC polls was not enough to “instill confidence” in the voters.

The poll panel had sought 50 companies of Central forces for Kolkata and 100 companies for the districts.

He said that in the past few days Kolkata has topped with 80 complaints as regards the number of allegations of poll violence received by the poll panel, followed by 46 from South 24-Parganas. The total number of complaints from the districts is 150.   

Earlier in the day, the principal secretary of Bengal Home department R K Gupta informed the poll commission in writing that three companies of Central troops would be deployed in Kolkata.

After the KMC elections on 18 April, two companies will be re-deployed in North 24-Parganas and one company in Hooghly for the civic elections in the districts on 25 April.

Volence illustration

The day witnessed at least three attacks on workers and candidates of Opposition political parties allegedly by Trinamul miscreants.

At KMC’s ward number 41 in Narkeldanga in north Kolkata, Congress candidate and sitting councillor Prakash Upadhaya was assaulted by some Trinamul supporters.

At Patuli in south Kolkata, CPI-M supporters and the party’s poll candidates were attacked with blunt weapons in the morning while they were returning from an election rally. Angry CPI-M workers ghearoed Patuli police station demanding the arrest of the culprits.

Again at Kasba in south Kolkata, some BJP cadres were assaulted early on Thursday while they were putting up saffron flags along the main road.

The election commissioner said that he today called on the Governor Mr Keshari Nath Tripathi to apprise him of the overall preparations for civic polls and the prevailing situation in the poll-bound civic bodies. “The Governor has instructed us to keep an watch on law and order,” he said.Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya. File photo.

Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya. File photo.

During the day, several delegations of civil society groups and Opposition political parties met the election commissioner lodging complaints over alleged Trinamul attacks on their workers.     

A delegation of Left-leaning civil society members comprising Wasim Kapoor, Chandan Sen, Kinnar Roy, Malabika Chatterjee and others, told the commissioner that they were worried over the spurt in violence in Kolkata over the past few days and urged that the poll panel should do everything in its command to ensure that citizens can vote peacefully. 

A team from the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) voiced similar demands and also registered their protest over the absence of NOTA option in the civic poll EVMs.   

Two separate delegations of the Left Front and a delegation from the BJP also met the poll commissioner over attacks on their workers, allegedly by Trinamul-backed miscreants. 

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