Opposition candidates chased away in West Bengal bypolls

The average polling percentage across the four constituencies where bypolls were held — Maniktala, Bagdah, Ranaghat Dakshin, and Raiganj — was 62.71% till 5 p.m.

Published - July 10, 2024 09:25 pm IST - Kolkata

A security personnel checks the voters’ documents as they arrive to cast their votes for the Assembly by-elections, in Kolkata on July 10, 2024

A security personnel checks the voters’ documents as they arrive to cast their votes for the Assembly by-elections, in Kolkata on July 10, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

Incidents of raising slogans against candidates of Opposition parties, which had dominated the Lok Sabha election in West Bengal, were evident again on Wednesday, when bypolls were held across four Assembly constituencies in the State.

The four constituencies where bypolls were held on July 10 are Maniktala in Kolkata; Bagdah in North 24 Parganas district; Ranaghat Dakshin in Nadia district; and Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district.

Also read:Trinamool, BJP to face off in bypolls to four Assembly seats in West Bengal

In Maniktala, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Kalyan Chaubey faced ‘Go back’ slogans at various places in the constituency throughout the day. Mr. Chaubey demanded a re-poll in several polling booths in the constituency. BJP supporters staged protests at the Phoolbagan Police Station in the city against electoral irregularities.

The vehicle of the BJP’s Bagda candidate, Binay Kumar Biswas, was attacked by a crowd at booth number 188 of the Bagda Assembly constituency, and the candidate had to flee from the spot. “This is shameful...what kind of Bengal we live in...They would have killed me had I not left the area. I had visited the area after receiving reports of electoral irregularities,” the BJP candidate said. Three persons were arrested in connection with the incident.

‘Go back’ slogans were also raised against other BJP candidates contesting in Ranaghat Dakshin and Raiganj. “What kind of democracy is it that a candidate contesting polls is met with ‘Go back’ slogans. This is what we have seen in the Lok Sabha election,” State BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said.

There were several incidents of scuffles, and people were seen gathering within 100 metres of the polling booth. Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Kunal Ghosh said that polls were peaceful and there might be stray incidents which the BJP had tried to orchestrate so that the party could blame such incidents after it lost. Mr. Ghosh also added that a lower voting percentage in the bypoll than in the normally held elections had become a trend.

The average polling percentage across the four constituencies, till 5 p.m., was 62.71%. The highest percentage of polling was 67.12% at Raiganj, and lowest was 51.39% at Maniktala. The polling till 5 p.m. at Ranaghat Dakshin was 65.37%, and at Bagda, it was 65.15%. The polling percentage was expected to rise as voting continued till 6 p.m.

The Assembly constituencies of Bagdah and Ranaghat Dakshin fell vacant after their MLAs resigned from their seats to contest the Lok Sabha elections. Krishna Kalyani, who lost the Lok Sabha election to the BJP’s Kartik Chandra Paul, is contesting from the Raiganj Assembly seat. Mukut Mani Adhikari, who lost the Ranaghat Lok Sabha seat to the BJP’s Jagannath Sarkar, is the candidate from the Ranaghat Dakshin Assembly constituency.

The TMC has now fielded Madhuparna Takur, a member of the Matua Thakurbari, in the Matua-dominated constituency of Badga.

In Kolkata’s Maniktala constituency, the State’s ruling party has fielded Supti Pandey, wife of the late TMC MLA Sadhan Pandey.

The Election Commission of India has deployed around 70 companies of security forces for the four Assembly constituencies. Counting of votes will take place on July 13.

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