West Bengal and Assam saw high voter turnout amid sporadic instances of violence and controversies in their assembly elections on Monday. An estimated 82% votes were cast in Assam where 61 seats went to poll in the last but decisive phase. Election Commission expects the final turnout to go beyond 85%. In the neighbouring state, turnout was 79.5%.
Assam’s Kamrup and Barpeta districts saw police firing and violence. An elderly voter was killed and three others, including two CRPF personnel, were injured when security personnel fired in the air to quell a protest in Kamrup after its constable allegedly misbehaved with a pregnant voter. Widespread violence in Bengal, where 31 constituencies went to polls, raised doubts if the remaining four phases would pass off peacefully.
Reports of clashes between the ruling Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) supporters in their respective strongholds came throughout the day.
The three districts that went to poll in Bengal were erstwhile strongholds of the Left. The clashes indicate Trinamool’s efforts to stall Left’s bid to regain ground with Congress’ help. “Trinamool Congress has unleashed violence and the Election Commission has failed to tackle it,” alleged CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, whose constituency also went to poll on Monday.
“More than 1,100 complaints were filed with the EC today (Monday) in W Bengal,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
Meanwhile, the EC filed an FIR against a candidate in Raniganj for entering a polling booth with her husband. The poll panel will also act against the presiding officials.
In Assam, Monday’s contest was primarily between the Congress and the AIUDF.
While the BJP hopes for a split in Muslim votes, the Congress is banking on the Assamese-speaking Muslims and the AIUDF on the Bengali-speaking minority population.
The fate of former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, Congress minister Rockybul Hussain was sealed in the EVM in the northeastern state.