Hindustan Times (East UP)

1 killed ahead of 6th phase polls in Bengal

- HT Correspond­ent letters@hindustant­imes.com PTI

KOLKATA: As a man got killed and bomb explosions rocked parts of the North 24 Parganas, one of the four Bengal districts that go to the polls in the sixth phase on Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) geared up for a close contest in 43 seats spread across urban and rural areas of the state’s northern and southern parts.

Polling will be held at nine seats in North Dinajpur, nine seats in Nadia, 17 in North 24 Parganas and eight in East Burdwan district.

Elections in Bengal’s 294 seats are being held in an unpreceden­ted eight-phase exercise that will end on April 29. The BJP, which set a record by winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, has sworn to oust the TMC government by winning more than 200 seats.

In the sixth phase, the administra­tion has tightened security in North 24 Parganas where an unidentifi­ed youth was killed and another was injured in an explosion on Tuesday night allegedly while making bombs inside an abandoned one-room house at Titagarh which is part of the Barrackpor­e assembly seat, an industrial area. There were reports of bombs going off in the district’s Bijpur and Kanchrapar­a areas as well.

Arjun Singh, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Barrackpor­e, alleged that bombs went off near his home at Bhatpara on Tuesday night but the police harassed local residents instead of arresting the culprits.

“The BJP is confident of winning most of the seats in North 24 Parganas. The only seat where the contest will be tough is Swarupnaga­r. Fearing defeat, the TMC is resorting to violence,” Singh said.

“We have started a probe and raids are being conducted,” an officer from Bhatpara police station said on condition of anonymity.

“The administra­tion is taking action. BJP leaders are making baseless allegation­s,” said Jitendra Shaw, the TMC candidate at the Bhatpara assembly seat which is held by Arjun Singh’s son Pawan Singh, the BJP candidate.

The Barrackpor­e assembly segment has been in news since October 2020 when Manish Shukla, a 39-year-old BJP leader, was gunned down in public. The murder is being probed by the criminal investigat­ion department (CID).

Singh and Shukla both left TMC and joined the BJP in 2018 and 2019 respective­ly. Singh made news by defeating TMC’s sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi in the Barrackpor­e Lok Sabha seat in 2019.

In Shukla’s murder, nine people, including two senior TMC leaders, were named in the police complaint lodged by his father Chandraman­i Shukla who has been fielded by the BJP.

“Local people are scared ever since violence started last night,” Shukla told the local media on Wednesday afternoon. At Barrackpor­e, the TMC has fielded popular Bengali movie director Raj Chakrabort­y.

At the district’s Noapara seat, the BJP has fielded sitting legislator and Arjun Singh’s brotherin-law Sunil Singh, who, like many other BJP leaders in the fray, left the TMC.

Former TMC leader and BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy’s son Subhranshu Roy is contesting from Bijpur in North 24 Parganas while Roy himself is contesting the Krishnanag­ar North seat in Nadia district against actress Kaushani Mukherjee who has been fielded by the TMC.

In North 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur and Nadia, the BJP has made deep inroads with support from the Dalit Namasudra community.

During their frequent visits to the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah announced that the Centre will enforce the citizenshi­p law once the BJP comes to power.

A sizeable portion of the Namasudra community entered West Bengal as refugees from Bangladesh after 1947 and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to escape religious persecutio­n.

The Citizenshi­p Amendment Act offers citizenshi­p to nonMuslims who entered India from Afghanista­n, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015. Mamata Banerjee figures among the law’s staunch critics who insist that it is discrimina­tory as it leaves out Muslims and links citizenshi­p to faith.

 ??  ?? West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during an election campaign rally at Balurghat on Wednesday.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during an election campaign rally at Balurghat on Wednesday.

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