Large turnout amid sporadic violence in Bengal civic polls (Lead)

June 3rd, 2012 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, June 3 (IANS) Amid accusations and counter-accusations of violence, brisk polling was reported Sunday during elections for six civic bodies in West Bengal - being viewed as a barometer of the popularity of the Mamata Banerjee government.

According to the State Election Commission, 85 percent voting was recorded in the six civic bodies - Durgapur Municipal Corporation in Burdwan district, and municipalities of Panskura and Haldia in East Midnapore, Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri, Cooper’s Camp in Nadia and Nalhati in Birbhum district.

The ruling Trinamool Congress claimed the polls were peaceful. But opposition Left Front and Congress disagreed.

The allies in the union and state governments - Trinamool and Congress - are fighting separately for the first time after last year’s assembly polls.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, contesting in almost all the 129 seats, accused the Trinamool of instigating violence and intimidating voters and has demanded for re-poll in 29 booths.

“The polls have been marred by incidents of all round violence. The Trinamool Congress had resorted to all sorts of violent methods in the elections, Left Front chairman Biman Bose told reporters here.

“From false voting in many booths to intimidating voters, driving out our polling agents and beating and threatening our candidates, they have done it all to ensure the polls are not peaceful,” he said.

The Congress questioned the role of the administration.

“The administration was a mute spectator as Trinamool backed miscreants tried to influence the voters by resorting to violence. Had the administration been impartial, such incidents would not have taken place,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said.

Trinamool Congress leader Subhendu Adhikari however rubbished the allegations, pointing to the large turnout as an indicator.

The poll results to be declared Tuesday would also be an indicator on whether the opposition Left Front has succeeded in regaining lost ground.

In 2007, the Left Front had won in three of the six civic bodies. The Congress won two while Congress-Trinamool alliance bagged one.

Nalhati has generated keen interest because the Congress campaign was being led by local legislator Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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