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Violence, bombings, EVMs thrown in water, tight security, and fierce political clashes marked the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal.

West Bengal witnessed massive violence on Saturday as the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections took place across nine state constituencies. Clashes erupted in various areas with incidents of crude bombs being hurled and a reserve electronic voting machine thrown into the water, disrupting the polling process.

Violence in Jadavpur Constituency

Clashes erupted between TMC and ISF supporters in the Jadavpur constituency. Crude bombs were flung by both sides, following which the police intervened to control the situation. The police action triggered further protest, resulting in a lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Several crude bombs were also recovered by the police from the spot, indicating the intensity of the clash.

Disruption in South 24 Parganas

In the South 24 Parganas district, at booths 40 and 41 in Kultali, a mob reportedly threw a reserve EVM and a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine into the water. The EC confirmed that the machines were indeed on reserve and asserted that the polling process was not affected. A senior EC official said, “The polling process has not been vitiated. Those that were kept in reserve were thrown in water. We have sought a report from the presiding officer.”

Clashes in Kolkata Uttar Constituency

At Cossipore in Kolkata Uttar constituency, BJP candidate Tapas Roy was given an aggressive reception by TMC workers when he went to visit the polling booths. “Go back” slogans echoed as a tough crowd was given to the BJP leader by TMC workers.

Allegations and Protests in Sandeshkhali

 The BJP had raised concerns over alleged intimidation tactics by TMC workers and local police in Bermajur area of Sandeshkhali. The party claimed that on Friday night, TMC workers, accompanied by policemen, had threatened BJP polling agents at their homes. The BJP shared video clips purportedly showing women from Sandeshkhali protesting against the TMC’s actions. BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya commented on X, “The brave women of #Sandeshkhali have chased away corrupt and compromised West Bengal Police. Our women leaders are speaking to them and each one of them will vote against the tyranny of Mamata Banerjee. This is a fight like none other and will be taken to logical conclusion.”

Polling Amid Tight Security

Polling, however, went on under strict security measures in the nine constituencies: Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, and Kolkata Uttar. The Election Commission had provided additional security forces to ensure the safety of voters and the proper conduct of elections.

A total of 1.63 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes in this phase, including 83.19 lakh men, 80.20 lakh women, and 538 persons of the third gender. The polling was held in 17,470 polling stations where voters cast their votes amidst tightened security.

Political Stakes

The final phase of the Lok Sabha elections is crucial for all major parties in West Bengal. The TMC, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is trying to cling on to the state by all means, whereas the Bharatiya Janata Party is making an all-out effort to put up a big show.

The political landscape of West Bengal has been violently fought between the two, with both parties going full throttle in their campaigns.

The violence and disruptions evident in this final phase mean that the stakes are high, and rivalry among parties is also at its best. As polling ends, the focus will now shift to the counting of votes and declaration of results, which will indicate the political future of West Bengal and its representation in the Lok Sabha.

Conclusion:

While the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal has been characterized by violence and disruptions, the determination of voters to cast their vote in the democratic process cannot be undermined. The incidents stand to show the challenges that occur in ensuring a peaceful and free election, but also the strength of the electorate to exercise its right to vote.

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