A streetside brawl broke out between the workers of the BJP and Trinamool Congress in Mamata Banerjee’s constituency and stronghold Bhabanipur where voting for an assembly by-election seat is to be held on 30 September. Trinamool Congress workers campaigning for Mamata Banerjee reportedly attacked the cavalcade of former West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh when it passed by.
Trinamool Congress workers campaigning for the chief minister caught BJP’s Bharat Narayan Singh, who was accompanying Dilip Ghosh, and beat him.
Security personnel accompanying Ghosh had to escort him to safety. Two of them were caught on camera when they drew their pistols at the TMC workers, apparently to scare them. Ghosh also got agitated and shouted back at the crowd.
BJP Lok Sabha member and state vice-president Arjun Singh, who was campaigning at Sambhunath Pandit Street, faced similar demonstrations when he approached the location where Ghosh was surrounded. Singh had to leave the spot.
“Today’s incident has proved that the situation is not conducive for holding free and fair polls. We will submit a memorandum to the EC urging it withhold the poll till the law and order situation gets normal. However, we will contest if the EC decides to go ahead with the election,” Dilip Ghosh said.
BJP leader and IT cell head Amit Malviya said that his party’s massive outreach in Bhabanipur had unnerved the AITC. He indicated that the Trinamool Congress was making attempts to stop BJP leaders from campaigning.
“But how many people will they be able to stop? BJP leaders are spread out in every corner of the constituency. Importantly, the public is out in large numbers to support,” he tweeted.
Trinamool Congress workers staged a demonstration near a podium set up by the BJP for a roadside meeting on Ashutosh Mukherjee Road. Leader of the Opposition in the assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, addressed people from the podium later in the afternoon. “These disruptions are being created to scare voters,” Adhikari said in his speech.
As many as 80 BJP leaders mobilised support for party candidate Tibrewal on the last day of campaigning. Trinamool Congress leaders and ministers had started campaigning early for Chief Minister Banerjee.
“Central armed police forces will not sit silent if incidents like this happen on the day of polling,” said Tibrewal.
Today is the last day of campaigning in Bhabanipur. The by-election will be held on 30 September along with elections to Samserganj and Jangipur seats in District Murshidabad where polling could not be held during the eight-phase assembly election held in March-April.
On 27 September, the last day of campaigning, the BJP deployed a large group of party leaders in Bhabanipur, including Dilip Ghosh, in support of party candidate Priyanka Tibrewal, who is contesting the by-poll against Chief Minister Banerjee.
Banerjee, a resident of Kalighat near Bhabanipur, needs to win in order to hold on to her office. She has contested from Bhabanipur in the past two assembly elections successfully.
Banerjee, who led her party to a massive electoral triumph for a third successive term, is required to win a seat in the state assembly by 5 November in conformity with the constitutional provisions to continue as chief minister. The constitution allows a non-member of a state legislature or the parliament to continue in a ministerial position for six months.
After her defeat in Nandigram, Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, the state cabinet minister and AITC MLA from Bhabanipur, vacated the seat to facilitate her election from there. Banerjee had entered the assembly after winning the by-poll in the Bhabanipur seat months after her party stormed to power by ousting the 34-year-old Left Front regime in 2011. She is a six-term MP from the South Kolkata Lok Sabha seat, which has the Bhabanipur seat in one of its segments.
The BJP has fielded Priyanka Tibrewal against Banerjee while the CPI(M) has nominated Srijib Biswas. Indian National Congress (INC) has not fielded anyone against the AITC head.