Large voter turnout in Assam, Bengal in 2nd phase; sporadic violence reported

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Kolkata/Guwahati, Apr 1 (PTI) Sporadic violence took place in West Bengal while Assam witnessed peaceful polling, barring a firing incident, as people in large numbers exercised their franchise in both states in the second phase of the assembly elections on Thursday.

Officials said that over 80.43 per cent voter turnout was reported from 30 constituencies in West Bengal up to 5 pm, while Assam registered 77.21 per cent voting in 39 seats till 6 pm.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused central forces deployed in Nandigram constituency, where she is locked in a fight with her former lieutenant, Suvendu Adhikari, now with the BJP, of helping the saffron party under instructions from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Allegations of booth capturing and partisan behaviour prompted the Election Commission to seek a report on an incident in Boyal village where the feisty Trinamool Congress boss stayed put for over two hours outside a polling booth following a siege of sorts by BJP supporters.

Suvendu Adhikari's car was pelted with stones at two places while he was visiting booths in the constituency. BJP candidate of the Keshpur seat, Tanmay Ghosh's vehicle was also vandalised allegedly by TMC workers, officials said.

Despite the violence and accusations of vote fraud in Nandigram, Banerjee said that she was confident of victory from the constituency where she had a decade-and-half ago led a farmers' movement against a chemical hub planned by the then Left Front government.

Though tight security measures have been taken in 30 assembly segments spread across Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and South 24 Parganas districts, workers of the TMC and the BJP fought pitched battles at several places in the four districts.

In Assam, three persons were injured in firing by the bodyguards of Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar in the Sonai seat in Cachar district after clashes broke out between supporters of the ruling BJP and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which is a constituent of the Congress-led Grand Alliance, officials said.

There are no other reports of violence from any of the 39 constituencies, where voting took place to decide the fate of 345 candidates, including five ministers, they said.

The third phase of the election will be held on April 6 in both Assam and West Bengal.

While that will be the final phase for Assam, West Bengal will see five more phases and the last one will be conducted on April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2. PTI SUS/SCH PNT JRC TR DG ESB SNS NN NN