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West Bengal civic poll results to be out today
The municipality polls will be the first major test for the Trinamool-Congress alliance after its victory in the 2011 Assembly polls.
New Delhi: The results of the West Bengal civic polls will be declared on Tuesday. An 86 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the crucial election to six municipalities across the state on Monday, the first major test for the Trinamool-Congress alliance after its landslide victory in the 2011 Assembly polls on the back of a huge anti-incumbency wave.
All 129 seats in the six civic bodies - Durgapur, Dhupguri, Haldia, Nalhati, Daspur and Coopers' Camp - witnessed triangular contests among the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M)-led Left Front.
The seats were spread over five districts - Jalpaiguri, East Midnapore, Haldia, Birbhum and Bardhaman. Cooper's Camp in Nadia district recorded the highest 93.28 per cent polling.
Alliance partners, Trinamool and Congress, however, fought the civic elections independently, a reflection of their bitter rivalry. Congress and opposition CPI(M) alleged that the polls were far from free and fair and accused Trinamool activists of resorting to booth-capturing and rigging.
"We are disappointed the way polls were held. Agents were physically assaulted and removed from booths by TMC workers. There were widespread irregularities. We have lodged a complaint with the State Election Commission," West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) President Pradip Bhattacharya said.
He alleged that the poll was marked by violence, booth-capturing, rigging and use of force against Congress and opposition political parties alike.
"Things have turned out to be the same as what prevailed in the Left regime. Only the colour of government has changed, not the governance," Bhattacharya said.
On the other hand, Left Front Chairman Biman Bose accused Trinamool workers of rigging and booth-capturing at Haldia, Durgapur and Dhupguri.
Bose demanded that the State Election Commission order re-poll in 29 booths of the Durgapur civic board area.
However, the SEC rejected the demand saying no written complaint had been received in this regard.
SEC Commissioner Meera Pandey said two persons - one at Haldia and the other at Durgapur - were detained for involvement in poll-related disturbances.
Bose demanded that the state government ensure adequate security to prevent post-poll violence in all six municipal areas.
He alleged that Left Front candidates in Haldia, Panskura and Durgapur municipalities were harassed by Trinamool workers.
The CPI(M) state secretary also alleged that the presence of "outsiders" in some wards of Haldia municipality hampered free and fair election.
Besides, CPI(M) leaders alleged sporadic rigging and ransacking of their camp offices by Trinamool polling agents. They claimed that their agents were forced to vacate booths at several places.
Rubbishing the allegations, Trinamool Congress leader and Transport Minister Madan Mitra claimed that the civic polls passed off peacefully in a free and fair manner.
"The Trinamool Congress is in the government because people want it," Mitra said claiming that the party would make a clean sweep in all six municipalities.
BJP has also put up candidates in all the six civic bodies.
The Left Front, which contested in most of the seats, hopes to cash in on the triangular fights in many seats.
In 2007, the Left Front had won in three of the six civic bodies. The Congress won two while the Congress-TMC alliance bagged one.
Of the six civic bodies, Nalhati has generated a keen interest among public because the Congress campaign was led by local legislator Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The counting of votes would be held on June 5, the SEC commissioner said.
A report from Durgapur said the polls there were marked by stray incidents of violence and allegations of intimidation of Left Front cadres by Trinamool workers.
CPI(M) Burdwan district secretary Amal Halder alleged that party cadres were driven out by Trinamool workers in Wards 22, 21, 27, 14, 8 and 13 of Durgapur Municipal Corporation.
The Left Front has demanded fresh election in five booths of Ward 14. However, District Magistrate Omkar Singh Meena said the allegations were baseless and ruled out demands of repoll.
On the other hand, Trinamool leaders alleged that CPI(M) backed goons damaged their booth office at Wards 27 and 4.
Bombs were hurled to scare the voters in Ward 13, police said.
The Left Front has been in power at Durgapur Municipal Corporation since 1996 when it was upgraded to the status of a corporation from municipality.
Polls ended peacefully at Nalhati municipality where Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son and local MLA Abhijit Mukherjee was the star campaigner.
Police said the sitting councillor of Ward 8 of Nalhati municipality and Samajwadi Party candidate Subrata Datta was arrested on Monday for his alleged involvement in a brawl the night before.
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