- Voting begins in 144 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation
- The counting of votes will take place on December 21
- The Kolkata Police has heightened vigil across the city and its neighbouring areas
Sporadic incidents of violence marred the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections as few people were injured after crude bombs were hurled outside polling centres. The two incidents of hurling of crude bombs were reported in Sealdah and Khanna areas of Kolkata, and police contingents were rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control, a State Election Commission official said.
Speaking on the ongoing polls, CM Mamata Banerjee said, "voter turnout recorded till now is over 50%. I am happy people voted peacefully. Kolkata Police is carrying out its duties efficiently."
Earlier, a total of 18.51 per cent of total votes were polled till 11 AM. Polling has by and large been peaceful barring a few incidents. Two incidents of hurling of crude bombs outside polling centres were reported, an official had said.
Although the SEC claimed that only one person was injured in the incident, police said that three people were injured, of whom one has lost his leg. The BJP and the CPI (M) alleged that the TMC has forcibly stopped opposition booth agents from entering polling centres in several wards, a charge that the ruling party dubbed as "baseless".
CPI (M) activists staged a road blockade in Bagha Jatin area alleging that their polling agents were not allowed inside the booths. In ward no 22, BJP's sitting councillor Mina Devi Purohit alleged that she was attacked by TMC activists, an allegation which the ruling party denied. In ward no 45, Congress alleged the TMC has brought in fake voters and scuffle ensured between both the parties.
The grand old party alleged that Amitabha Chakraborti, the election agent of Congress councillor Santosh Pathak, was beaten up by TMC activists inside the booth. In Jain School booth of the ward, clashes were reported between TMC and Congress activists inside the booth. The police later brought the situation under control.
The TMC, during the run-up to the KMC polls, had warned party candidates against using force during the civic polls, and said that those found to be involved in violence would be thrown out of the party.
"The incidents of hurling crude bombs and violence in some areas prove that TMC's instruction to its candidates was just on pen and paper and nothing was implemented on the ground," CPI(M) leader Sayandeep Mitra said.
TMC leader Partha Bhowmick dubbed the allegations as baseless and said "polling has been peaceful in all the KMC wards", and those who have hurled bombs would be "identified and arrested" by the police.
Voting began at 7 AM in 4,949 polling centres with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols amid tight security, and it will continue till 5 PM, officials said. A total of 40,48,357 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to seal the fate of 950 candidates in the fray. The SEC has declared 1,139 of the 4,949 polling centres as "sensitive".
State Election Commission Secretary Nilanjan Sandilya has said that all necessary measures have been taken to ensure free and fair elections. A total of 23,500 Kolkata Police personnel have been deployed across the city, and route marches and area domination exercises were conducted in various parts of the metropolis, an officer of the force said.
He said that more than 200 police pickets have also been set up at crucial points across the city. The ruling Trinamool Congress is fighting to retain the civic board for the third consecutive term, while the BJP will contest CPI(M) to secure the second position. The TMC had swept all the 16 assembly segments in the metropolis in this year's assembly elections. The counting of votes will take place on December 2