The 4th phase of the West Bengal assembly election took place on Saturday, voter turnout of 76.16% recorded by 5 pm. Polling was held in 15,940 stations across 44 assembly seats. The violence started in phase1 continued in this phase also and the majority of the complaints of violence were against the ruling TMC party.
126 number polling station of Sitalkuchi constituency of Cooch Behar was there in the focus of every media house on the voting day in Bengal. Five people were killed in this constituency when the voting procedure was going on in several parts of Bengal. The central force allegedly fired bullets when a mob tried to snatch their arms, four people were killed in the incident. The SP of Cooch Behar district, Debashish Dhar, did a press release regarding the incident and said that a mob of around 350-400 people including women with home-made local weaponry tried to encircle the central police force and also tried snatching their arms, In self-defence, they fired 15 rounds of bullets and four people aged between 22-24 years lost their lives. Three people on the duty of election including a home guard were also injured. In a different case, an 18-year-old BJP supporter, Ananda Barman, was shot dead allegedly by the TMC goons outside 85 number polling station in Pathantuli of the Sitalkuchi constituency. Police arrested two in association with the murder.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded the resignation of Home minister Amit Shah on the issue of firing by the central forces. On the flip side Prime minister, Modi asked the Election commission to take strict actions against those responsible for the incident. The opposition attacked Mamata Banerjee and made the Chief Minister responsible for the incident that happened in Sitalkuchi as many a time she was seen provoking her supporters, especially the rural women, and asking them to surround the central police forces and to attack them with home-made local weaponry. The Election Commission had already sent Mamata Banerjee notice due to her provocative speech twice TMC supremo also announced her plan to reach out to the victims’ family and visit the place of the incident. However, the election commission barred politicians from going Cooch Behar for the next 72 hours as the situation might get tense if the politicians are allowed in the area.
Apart from these incidents, several discrete news of violence came from several parts of Bengal yesterday. Payel Sarkar, the BJP candidate from Behala East constituency, her car was allegedly attacked by the TMC supporters. A booth agent of CPIM in the Jadavpur constituency was assaulted, In Kasba BJP candidate Indranil Kha was attacked. The ISF candidate of Bhangar, Naushad Siddiqi staged a protest in front of the Bhangar police station against several attacks that happened to their members.
In another development, the polling strategy maker of TMC, Mr. Prashant Kishore’s private audio chat was leaked and in no time it went viral. The BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya also shared the audio in the morning of the 4th phase election day. In a private chat, Mr. Prashant Kishore can be heard saying both Modi and Mamata Banerjee are equally popular in Bengal. He said that massive polarization, anti-incumbency of a decade, and Schedule caste votes of 27% would be going in favor of BJP. He also complained about blatant Muslim appeasement in the last 10-20 years which helped BJP to polarize the Hindus even further. He stated that over one crore Non-Bengali voters, 27% SC voters, and over 75% of Matuas are voting in favor of the BJP. He allegedly said that in TMC’s internal survey also, BJP was winning the election. However, Mr. Prashant Kishore reacted to the audio clip that went viral and claimed that Amit Malavya shared a twisted audio clip selectively and urged them to share the entire conversation of the Club House meeting.
On Sunday morning the TMC supremo attacked the Election Commission via Twitter said that she can be restricted from going Cooch Behar for 3 days but she will be reaching out to the victims on the 4th day. She also claimed that Election Commission is working for Modi and they should rename the Model Code of Conduct as Modi Code of Conduct.
Four more phases of the election are to be held in Bengal; on 2nd May the fate of the state will be decided. People will finally get to know who would win the violence-smitten aggressive war of democracy that will be celebrated for one more month. We can only hope that the Election Commission will be able to restrict the level of violence we have already seen in the first four phases.