The last day of campaigning for the crucial Bhabanipur by-elections on Monday was marred by violence, with BJP vice-president Dilip Ghosh being manhandled. Supporters of the Trinamool Congress tried to prevent the BJP MP from campaigning by raising slogans and even pushing and shoving him. Mr. Ghosh’s security personnel were finally seen brandishing firearms to keep the crowd at bay.
After losing in Nandigram in the Assembly election earlier this year, Ms. Banerjee has returned to contest from her old constituency of Bhabanipur. She is pitted against the BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal and Left Front nominee Srijib Biswas.
“If there is no campaign, if we cannot reach the voters, then what is the point of holding elections,” Mr. Ghosh said. The BJP leader said repeated requests for security appeared to have been ignored by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and that the elections in Bhabanipur need to be postponed.
Earlier in the day, BJP MP Arjun Singh was also prevented from campaigning in the constituency. Mr. Singh alleged that four BJP supporters were injured in violence during the day.
The ECI has sought a report from the Office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal, over the incident at Bhabanipur. Later in the day a delegation of BJP leaders visited the office of the CEO and demanded that the polls be held under prohibitory orders under Section 144 in the entire Bhabanipur constituency.
The Trinamool Congress leadership, however, dismissed the allegations of involvement of party supporters in the violence, and said it was spontaneous reaction of common people.
“@BJP4Bengal HITS A NEW LOW! How DARE a gun be aimed at public in broad daylight? Do people not have the right to protest against leaders they do not support? Such blatant violation of human rights is shameful! This compromises the safety and security of people in Bhabanipur!” the TMC tweeted from its official handle sharing a video of the incident where Mr Ghosh’s security personnel were seen brandishing firearms.
Bhabanipur and two other constituencies Jangipur and Samserganj in Murshidabad district will go to polls on Thursday.