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Trinamool, CPM Activists Clash During West Bengal Civic Polls

CPM and Trinamool Congress workers clashed on Sunday during the fiercely-contested West Bengal civic polls, which recorded a high voter turnout of around 75 per cent.  The polls, seen as a semi-final before the 2011
PTI May 30, 2010 21:32 IST
PTI

CPM and Trinamool Congress workers clashed on Sunday during the fiercely-contested West Bengal civic polls, which recorded a high voter turnout of around 75 per cent. 

The polls, seen as a semi-final before the 2011 assembly elections, were held in 81 civic bodies and in the 141-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation involving an electorate of 85 lakh. Counting of votes will take place on June 2. State Election Commission chairperson Meera Pandey said that re-poll was likely to be ordered in two booths in Kolkata. Altogether 45 arrests were made in the districts and the city for indulging in violence. 

A voter received bullet injuries when a Tripura police constable reportedly opened three rounds of fire at a polling booth at Patuli in South 24-Parganas district. The injured, identified as Bapi Dhar, earlier had an altercation with the policeman and was rushed to a hospital, IGP (law and order) S Purakayastha said. 

The Tripura Police personnel were manning the booth located at Kendua Girls' High School at Patuli which falls under chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's Jadavpore Assembly constituency. An inquiry would be ordered into the incident, the IGP said. 

In Burdwan, nine persons, including two policemen and a Trinamool candidate, were injured when Trinamool and CPM activists clashed during polling at Jamuria municipality.

Police said the two sides clashed while voting was on at Sripur in Burdwan district. When the police reached the spot, stones were thrown at them damaging two of their jeeps. TC supporters clashed with police in some wards of Hooghly district. Twenty-three arrests were made in the districts for poll-related violence, police said. 

The IGP said Trinamool workers ransacked a police van at Sripur in Burdwan district. Some crude bombs were recovered from Liluah in Howrah district where police seized two motorcycles and made one arrest. EVM hitches slowed down the polling process in some booths, the officer said. Polling which began at 7am amid tight security ended at 3pm. He said para-military forces were extensively used for guarding booths and in mobile patrolling. 

In 2005, of the 81 civic bodies, the Left had won 55. For the Left, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls is a prestige issue since it had snatched it from the TC in 2005. 

All the three major players -- Left, TC and Congress --have a lot at stake in today's polls. For chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, a good showing by the Left can be projected as their revival from the debacle of the last Lok Sabha elections when it won just 15 seats out of 42 against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee's 19. 

For the TC chief, who has campaigned vigorously for the polls, the results are expected to give enough indications on whether she will ride to power in the assembly polls due next May. 

An important factor is that Trinamool has parted ways with the Congress for the civic polls and may choose to go it alone in the assembly elections if the outcome of today's exercise went in its favour.PTI