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  • ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ପଢନ୍ତୁ

Barring minor incidents of violence, the polling for West Bengal's Asansol Lok Sabha constituency and Ballygunge Assembly seat, where by-elections are being held on Tuesday, has been peaceful, with over 52 per cent of eligible voters casting their votes till 5 pm.

The Asansol Lok Sabha seat saw 64.03 per cent polling, while the prestigious Ballygunge Assembly constituency in south Kolkata, witnessed a lower 41.10 er cent voter turnout till 5 pm, an official said.

On Tuesday morning, stones were hurled at the vehicle of BJP's candidate for Asansol, Agnimitra Paul, leading to tension in a few localities of the industrial town.

Stones were thrown when the candidate's personal security personnel baton-charged a group of TMC supporters who gheraoed Paul's vehicle alleging that she tried to enter a polling booth along with her security guards. Television grabs also seemed to show that her guards had tried to enter the booth.

"My polling agent was not allowed to enter a booth in Barabani. My vehicle was also attacked, and the police were mute spectators. Does TMC think they can ensure Shatrughan Sinha's victory by plotting to kill me? The BJP will again win in Asansol," Paul said.

As her security personnel tried to escort her out of the spot, TMC activists shouted slogans against the BJP, following which a melee between the security forces and the activists was reported.

The TMC alleged that Paul and her security personnel tried to create disturbance in the area.

"How can a candidate move with a convoy of 20 cars? She and her security personnel were trying to create tension in the area," TMC leader V Sivadasan said.

The TMC has fielded veteran actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha from Asansol, which has a substantial Hindi-speaking population. The BJP has nominated Paul, who is the MLA from Asansol Dakshin.

"I don't want to take any names, but it seems someone who is apprehensive about defeat has lost her cool," Sinha said.

The Election Commission said that it has received a complaint regarding the incident. "We will look into it," an official said.

In Pandaveswar area, the BJP alleged that their booth agent was not allowed inside the booth by the ruling TMC, an allegation dubbed as baseless by the ruling party.

The by-elections were necessitated as Babul Supriyo resigned as the MP of Asansol after switching over to the TMC from BJP, while state minister Subrata Mukherjee, who represented Ballygunge, died last year.

Supriyo is the TMC candidate in Ballygunge, where he is pitted against BJP's Keya Ghosh, and CPI(M) 's Saira Shah Halim. The Congress is also in the fray in both the seats.

Supriyo, a noted singer, visited several booths and sang songs.

The TMC alleged that Supriyo was stopped from entering a booth in the area by the central forces deputed there.

Ghosh, however, alleged that the TMC was trying to stop genuine voters from casting their votes, an allegation again termed baseless by the ruling party.

On Tuesday, polling began at 7 am for the by-election amid tight security arrangements.

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