The Trinamool Congress and the BJP workers on Monday clashed at many places during voting in eight constituencies of West Bengal, repeating the pattern of violence that has marred the ongoing national election in the state. The most intense confrontation was witnessed in Asansol, where Union Minister Babul Supriyo's car was vandalised. Clashes also erupted in Birbhum. In the Ranaghat constituency, a woman voter was critically injured in a bomb attack by political workers outside a polling station, news agency PTI reported. After the polling ended, both - the BJP and the Trinamool - approached the Election Commission regarding the role of Central forces in polling booths.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday slammed the Central forces for aerial firing at a polling station in Birbhum's Dubrajpur area to control the crowd. She said the law and order was a state subject and it was not the job of the Central forces to enter polling booths. She also alleged that the BJP was misusing the Central forces.
"I am yet to get the detailed report.... law and order is a state subject and it is not the job of the central forces to enter any polling booth as they are deployed to keep vigil outside it. They do not have the right to lathi-charge or fire," she was quoted by news agency PTI as saying at a rally.
"I have heard that complaints were made (before the EC) that the central force personnel have gone inside booths and asked people to vote for the BJP. This will not help the BJP," she added.
The Trinamool has written to the Election Commission alleging that the Central forces were acting at the behest of the BJP.
The BJP has also approached the Election Commission demanding deployment of Central forces in all polling booths in West Bengal.
"The ruling Trinamool Congress workers have hijacked democracy in the state and are indulging in violence. They are being supported by the local machinery and we demand deployment of central forces in all polling booths in the state," Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Babul Supriyo, the sitting Asansol parliamentarian, has alleged that Trinamool workers were not letting people enter the polling station.
"I visited Barabani to witness the polling but found that voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise. Our fight is to establish democracy ... It is shameful that I have to say this in a democratic country," he was quoted by news agency PTI.
The Election Commission has directed the West Bengal police to register a case against Mr Supriyo for allegedly entering a voting booth and threatening officials.
Interestingly, as clashes were reported from Asansol, Moon Moon Sen, the Trinamool Congress candidate in the seat, said she "hadn't heard anything" because she had woken up late. "They gave me my bed tea very late so I woke up very late. What can I say? I really don't know," Moon Moon Sen, a former actor-turned-politician, told NDTV.
There were clashes between supporters of the Trinamool and the BJP at Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum constituency in which several people were injured, news agency PTI reported.
The BJP has sought re-polling in Birbhum.
The Election Commission, meanwhile, has issued a show-cause notice to Birbhum BJP candidate Dudh Kumar Mondal after he was seen talking over a mobile phone inside a polling booth.
BJP's Krishnanagar candidate Kalyan Chaubey has alleged that voters in several areas were not allowed to cast their votes.
"The TMC goons jammed booths at Chapra, Dompukur and Hatisala areas of Krishnagar constituency. The central forces guarded the booths but people beyond the mandatory 100-metre radius were warned against casting their votes. I was also threatened by some of them," he claimed.
The TMC Krishnagar candidate Mahua Maitra said the accusations were baseless.
Voting for the fifth phase of national election will be conducted on May 6, and results will be out on May 23.
With input from PTI