Four people were killed during clashes between BJP and Trinamool Congress workers in Cooch Behar district which is voting in the fourth phase of the eight-phased state polls, sources in the Election Commission told NDTV. The ruling Trinamool Congress, however claimed that five people have died in the clashes at Sitalkuchi constituency amid polling. The Election Commission has adjourned polling and has sought a report over the incident.
Earlier, BJP released audio clips in which Prashant Kishor, Mamata Banerjee's election strategist for the Bengal polls, appears to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "as popular as" the Chief Minister in the state, prompting Mr Kishor to dare the BJP to release the full transcript of the chat on Clubhouse. "I am glad BJP guys are taking my Clubhouse chat more seriously than the words or their own leaders. With regards to the selective and distorted use of part of the conversation, I urge them to release the full conversation," the poll strategist told NDTV.
Forty-four seats covering Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts in north Bengal and parts of South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hoogly in the southern part of the state are voting today. Union Minister Babul Supriyo, state ministers Partha Chatterjee and Arup Biswas are among the 373 candidates in the fourth phase.
The fourth phase witnessed high-decibel campaigns by the BJP and Trinamool Congress. While the BJP targeted chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee accusing them of corruption and "appeasement politics", the Trinamool hit back on the BJP-led central government over recent hike in prices of gas, petrol, diesel, besides plans to disinvest in a large number of central government run PSUs. Ms Banerjee also accused central police forces of harassing and intimidating voters and urged voters to "gherao" them - a remark for which she received a notice from the Election Commission.
A total of 1.15 crore people, including 290 members of the third gender, are eligible to vote in the 44 constituencies spread over Howrah (Part II), South 24 Parganas (Part III), Hooghly (Part II) in south Bengal and in north Bengal's Alipurduar and Coochbehar.
Here are the Live Updates on fourth phase of polling in West Bengal:
Election Commission has covered itself with mud by stopping Mamata from going to Coochbehar. After all she is still the CM of Bengal and it is her duty to visit the place of this unfortunate occurrence. We know for certain now that EC is not fair.- Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) April 10, 2021
The clashes outside a polling station in West Bengals Cooch Behar district this morning, in which four people died, took place after the local mob attacked the security forces over a misunderstanding, the Election Commission has said.
80.9 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the fourth phase of the Bengal Assembly polls today. In 2016, the state had registered over 83 per cent voter turnout in Phase four. 44 Assembly constituencies voted today in Bengal.
The CPI(M) has demanded a high-level inquiry into the death of four persons in West Bengal allegedly due to firing by CISF personnel on Saturday, reported news agency PTI.
The incident took place in Cooch Behar district's Sitalkuchi area when polling for the fourth phase of West Bengal Assembly election was underway, a senior police officer said.
According to the police, four persons were killed as CISF personnel allegedly opened fire after coming under attack from locals, who "attempted to snatch their rifles".
"Central forces firing upon voters and killing 4 is outrageous. Totally condemnable. EC must order a high powered enquiry under judicial supervision and punish the guilty. Deepest condolences to the bereaved families," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
"After elections, Didi will exit from Bengal but her "bhaipo" will vouch to play a new game on the TMC. Brothers and sisters, this is also a "khela" that people of Bengal should understand. People have decided that "khela shesh hobe (the game will end)". The game of violence will end. Cut money game will end. The game of extortion will end. The game of syndicates will end," he said at a public rally in Bengal's Krishnanagar.
"The anger seen on Didi's face is not is due to Modi and BJP but due to her fear of defeat. The reason are those people whose trust she had broken, whom she betrayed. What did her government give to the youth? Unemployment, riots, sticks and humiliation," he further remarked.
One daughter of Bengal is attacking the other. If I broke the glass of my car myself then who broke the other two press vehicles? You all (media) were present there. Did press themselves break their own vehicles?: BJP candidate from Chunchura, Locket Chatterjee pic.twitter.com/y8GmiFFOgr- ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2021
Bengal registered 76.16% voter turnout till 5 PM in the fourth phase of the eight-phased election. Polling is underway in 44 constituency seats.
"They think the chief minister knows nothing. I urge the people to respond by voting. Vote the BJP out of the country. I want the Opposition to see how BJP is running the election. It's a shame on democracy," Mamata Banerjee said.
"Everyday the prime minister and the home minister are threatening us. Law and order is a state subject. Why will the police report the central government? Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday wrote to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of West Bengal alleging "cold-blooded murder of four and brutal injury of three innocent people by Central Forces", reported news agency ANI.
"Today, we write to you with a heavy heart in the wake of the brutal cold-blooded murder of four (4) and brutal injury to three (3) innocent people of Bengal by the bullets fired by Central Armed Police Forces ("CAPF") in AC Sitalkuchi, Coochbehar. The seven (7), whose only mistake was that they wished to participate in this festival of democracy, which is being conducted by you - the Election Commission of India. (ECI)," the letter from TMC read.
The party further stated, "Incidentally, the incumbent Superintendent of Police (SP), Coochbehar, under whose supervision the CAPF is deputed in the district, is also a person whom the ECI found to be suitable as a replacement of the erstwhile SP who was removed for reasons best known to the ECI."
"In first, second and third phases, we raised 6, 18 and 134 number of complaints, respectively, against the CAPF. However, no action and/or tangible action has been taken against the CAPF personnel and/or their hierarchy thereby emboldening the delinquent personnel. Though, for no apparent reason, from the DGP, WB to ADG -- Law and Order, WB, Director -- Security, ADG -- West Zone, numerous SPs/DCs, have all been removed by the ECI on the pretext of free and fair polls," the letter read.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has today replied to Election Commission's (EC) notice to her against her remarks on Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and said she did not violate the Model Code of Conduct, reported news agency ANI.
In her letter to EC, Ms Banerjee said, "There has been no effort to incite/influence the electorate against CAPFs. It is clear I have not violated Model Code of Conduct."
The Election Commission issued a notice to Mamata Banerjee on Friday asking her to explain her stand by April 10 regarding her statements against the Central Forces on March 28 and April 7. This is the second notice issued to her by the poll body.
Mamata Banerjee had alleged that the Central Forces favoured the BJP during the polling in the first and second phase of the Bengal Assembly elections.
On Wednesday, the poll body had issued another notice to Mamata Banerjee over her remarks on April 3, where she appealed to the Muslim voters to not let their vote be split among different political parties contesting in the ongoing Assembly elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today slammed Trinamool Congress (TMC) for "insulting" the Scheduled Caste (SC) community of Bengal, reported news agency ANI.
"The thinking of Didi and TMC leaders is coming out in the open. A video is going viral on social media where a leader close to Didi can be seen insulting members of the SC community. She had said that the SC community in Bengal acts like beggars. Didi, such arrogance! Such thinking!" PM Modi said while addressing a public meeting in north Bengal's Siliguri.
The Prime Minister also said Mamata Banerjee's anger against him is growing as she is witnessing defeat in front of her. "Seeing the affection of the people of Bengal for me, Didi is also angry with the people of Bengal," he added.
PM Modi said TMC's "goons" were not able to register "chhappa votes" (fake votes) this time around and so Mamata Banerjee is angry. "She never presented her report card for 10 years. She should be giving the account of her works, her nephew's works and her goons' works," he said.
Left leader Md Salim has condemned the incident of firing by Central forces on the voters in Bengal's Cooch Behar that killed four people and sought an inquiry under Judicial Supervision. He also accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for repeatedly provoking and instigating her unsuspecting supporters towards violence.
"We unequivocally condemn today's incident of firing and killings by Central Para-Military forces. An enquiry under Judicial Supervision should begin immediately. The chief minister also stands accused of responsibility of today's incident. She has repeatedly provoked and instigated her unsuspecting supporters towards violence," Mr Salim said.
Slamming the poll body, Mr Salim said, "The Election Commission had failed to discipline the chief minsiter, as well, despite numerous complaints from the Left. Unfortunately, she has shown no remorse in using people she takes for granted, as cannon fodder. The incident in Shitalkuchi has made this a black day for Indian Democracy."
Condemning the killing of four party workers by Central Forces in Cooch Behar during polling for the fourth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections today, Trinamool Congress (TMC) has sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation and termed the incident a conspiracy hatched by Mr Shah, reported news agency ANI.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, TMC MP Sougata Roy said, "The firing took place because common people were resisting the efforts by BJP hooligans to disrupt the voting. They are being encouraged by Central Armed Police Force and we feel this is a conspiracy headed by Home Minister. We are demanding his resignation."
"Why did the Central Armed Police Forces fire? Where do they get this audacity of firing on common voters? That is the main question. This is a part of a conspiracy and we do not think that the Prime Minister is out of this conspiracy. This is an effort to intimidate voters," added Mr Roy.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will visit Sitalkuchi in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district tomorrow where voting had to be called off today after clashes left four people dead.
The Trinamool Congress will organise black-badge protests across the state to mark the incident.
Bengal registered 66.76% voter turnout till 3 PM in the fourth phase of the eight-phased election. Polling is underway in 44 constituency seats.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee replies to Election Commission notice to her on her remarks on CAPFs. She states, "There has been no effort to incite/influence the electorate against CAPFs. It is clear I haven't violated Model Code of Conduct." pic.twitter.com/KnwrryG5gI- ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2021
The polling for the fourth phase of the West Bengal assembly elections commenced on Saturday morning amid tight security and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols."
আমি বাংলার সকল মা, ভাই ও বোনেদের আবেদন করব, সকলে আজ বিপুল সংখ্যায় নিজের গণতান্ত্রিক অধিকার প্রয়োগ করুন।- Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 10, 2021
I urge my brothers and sisters in Bengal to come out in large numbers and exercise their democratic right today.