- Panchayat polls in West Bengal from 7 am to 5 pm through ballot papers
- Several incidents of violence reported, media vehicle damaged in clashes
- Over 1.5 lakh security personnel, half of them armed, have been deployed
Here are latest developments in the West Bengal panchayat polls:
The first death reported was from Amdanga in North 24 Parganas, the last from Nandigram, the epicentre of Trinamool protests that led to its meteoric rise in state politics. TMC claimed two of the deceased were supporters of the party.
Thirteen people have died since last night in the state - two of them were a CPM supporters and his wife who were locked in their house and burnt alive in South 24 Parganas. The police said six people died in poll-related violence, the rest in other incidents.
Twenty people were injured in a low-intensity blast at a polling station at Shuktabari in north Bengal's Coochbehar district. The TMC candidate is among the injured. In Burdwan district, the opposition CPM and the BJP accused Trinamool workers of hurling bombs outside polling stations. In Bagda, North 24 Parganas, miscreants allegedly stormed a poll station and tried to stamp ballot papers.
A media vehicle was damaged in clashes in Bhangar, South 24 Parganas district. The police had to use tear gas to control the mob. There were reports from firing in the area. In Alipurduar, at least five journalists were injured when two groups clashed.
Trinamool said the polling was peaceful despite "minor incidents". Senior party leader Derek O'Brien tweeted: "To all 'newborn' experts on Bengal #PanchayatElections in State have a history. 400 killed in poll violence in 1990s in CPIM rule. 2003: 40 dead.Every death is a tragedy. Now closer to normal than earlier times.Yes, few dozen incidents. Say,40 out of 58000 booths. What's %age?"
Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury called today's violence an "open, naked murder of democracy... a Constitutional breakdown rather than law and order breakdown". State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said the party will take action against this violence. Mr Ghosh met with the governor, who said he will send a report to Delhi on Tuesday.
Of the 58,000-plus seats in the state, more than 38,000 are up for contest. A record 34 per cent seats were won unopposed by the TMC. The Supreme Court expressed concern about the unopposed elections and stayed the notification of the results.
Last week, the Calcutta High Court ruled that the state's officials and the Election Commission will be personally responsible for security. They will have to pay compensation if the loss of life and property exceeded the figures of the 2013 panchayat elections.
Lawyer Supratip Roy went to the Calcutta High Court on Monday and showed reports of violence on a news channel on his phone. "Look at the violence despite your orders," he told the court. The Chief Justice said Mr Roy may file a petition and the court will consider it.
Panchayat polls are one of the best political weathervanes in Bengal. In 2008, rural polls were the first electoral signal that the Left was in trouble. Three years later, Mamata Banerjee became chief minister.
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