BJP names Sonowal, Murugan as its candidates for Rajya Sabha bypolls

In Assam, a Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant after Biswajit Daimary resigned to become the assembly speaker.

New Delhi: The BJP on Saturday named Union ministers Sarbananda Sonowal and L Murugan as its candidates for the Rajya Sabha bypolls in Assam and Madhya Pradesh respectively, according to a party statement.

Both leaders were recently inducted into his Council of Ministers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, necessitating their elections to Parliament in six months.

Their election to the Rajya Sabha is all but certain as the BJP has a majority in the both state assemblies.

In Assam, a Rajya Sabha seat fell vacant after Biswajit Daimary resigned to become the assembly speaker.

In Madhya Pradesh, the vacancy emerged after the then Union minister Thaawarchand Gehlot resigned following his appointment as Karnataka governor.

AJP files complaints against Assam CM, senior BJP leaders

AJP filed complaints against Sarbananda Sonowal, Rameswar Teli and CM Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols during BJP's 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' in Assam

Guwahati: Opposition Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Sunday filed multiple complaints at various police stations against central ministers Sarbananda Sonowal, Rameswar Teli, and chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols during BJP’s ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ in Assam.

The complaints were also lodged against Assam ministers Bimal Borah and Jogen Mohan, MPs Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Topon Kumar Gogoi, Dilip Saikia, Pallab Lochan Das, and Queen Oja, BJP state chief Bhabesh Kalita, and Kamrup Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu.

The complaints were filed at Dispur, Latasil, and other police stations, police officers said.

“…a ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ has been organised by the Assam state BJP wherein government officials have also participated to welcome Sarbananda Sonowal…wherein more than 200 persons participated in complete violation of the SOPs, the complaint read.

The AJP alleged that protocols were violated due to the presence of a large number of people at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika’s memorial, and other places.

It further alleged that the movement of the BJP members from Kamrup Metropolitan district violated the SOPs as no such activity is allowed in the area at present.

“We request you to register a case against the persons mentioned above and investigate the matter, the opposition party urged the police.

When contacted, a senior official of the Guwahati Police told PTI that they are examining the complaints at present and the case will be registered “only if it has any merit”.

According to an order by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority on August 17, 200 persons are allowed to participate in a meeting in an open space and no movement of people to-and-from Kamrup Metropolitan district, which mainly comprises Guwahati city, is allowed.

Inter-district movement of people in private vehicles is permitted in other areas of the state.

The three-day ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ of the BJP started on Saturday after Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal reached Guwahati.

Starting from the state capital, the ‘Yatra’ will travel through Morigaon, Kaliabor, and Nagaon on Sunday, and Jorhat and Sivasagar on Monday.

BJP executed nearly 100% of budget proposals, Cong did 10%: Assam CM

If budget announcements and how many of those were implemented since BJP came to power in 2016 are reviewed, we will find almost all promises have been kept, said Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday claimed in the assembly that the BJP-led government in the state has implemented nearly 100 per cent of the announcements made in annual budgets since 2016, while the Congress executed only 10 per cent of the proposals during its last three terms.

The fact that the BJP government has presented Action Taken Reports (ATR) on the budget in the assembly since coming to power in the state proves that the announcements are being implemented, he said.

“If the budget announcements and how many of those were implemented since the BJP came to power here in 2016 are reviewed, we will find that almost all the promises have been kept.

“Of course, there could be one or two that could not be done due to some issues,” Sarma, who was the finance minister in the first BJP government in the state, said while participating in a discussion on this fiscal’s budget.

Ajanta Neog, the first woman finance minister of the state, on July 16 presented a Rs 566 crore deficit budget for 2021-22 in the assembly, proposing no new taxes.

Also Read: Assam: 8 minors among 37 rescued from being trafficked

“If one does some research on the Congress budgets from 2001 to 2015, one will find that 90 per cent of announcements were not implemented. The sanctity of the House has increased since the BJP came to power as we do what we say here,” the CM said.

The Congress had ruled Assam for three consecutive terms since 2001 and its government was ousted by the BJP in 2016. The saffron party returned to power in 2021.

Taking part in the discussion, opposition members said that the government should have increased tax on the rich and on liquor and reduced it on essential food items.

Also Read: CAA, NRC nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim divide: RSS chief in Assam

On ATRs presented at the end of each fiscal, Sarma said, “Let the opposition show me one example of another finance minister who gives an ATR and dares to accept what could not be done and what has been implemented.”

All the 18 announcements made in the last state budget have been implemented, he claimed.

He added that revenue generation could be a problem this year, but the government will try to fulfil its announcements as much as possible.

On Opposition’s criticism that the budget does not include any measure to control price rise, Sarma said that prices cannot be controlled by a budget.

“The only way to avoid price rise is to increase our own production. The budget has given ample importance on taking our key sectors forward, including setting up an agriculture commission,” he added.

On the government’s vision to make Assam among the top five states of the country, Sarma said that development is measured in various parameters and not just economic ones.

He emphasised that crimes should be checked to improve Assams position in sustainable development parameters and also highlighted the role of the people at large in crime control.

Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said that the pandemic has created pressure on the economy, and development and Covid management has to go hand in hand.

In the budget, the focus has been given on agriculture and increasing work culture, she said.

On the opposition criticism of creating beneficiaries through the budget, Neog said, “Beneficiaries are created due to circumstances. Schemes have been announced for providing economic protection to the poorer sections so that they can move up in the economic strata.”

Also Read: Assam: Elderly man killed in elephant attack in Digboi

Taking part in the discussion earlier, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Rakibul Hussain said that imposition of no new taxes cannot be supported.

“There should have been an increase in tax on rich people, on liquor, and reduction on items needed by the general people, like mustard oil,” the Congress leader added.

Describing the budget as ‘unrealistic’, another Congress member Bharat Narah said, “The government has spoken of flood-free Assam. But monsoons will come annually and bring rain. How can floods be totally avoided?”

Opposition AIUDF MLA Md Aminul Islam raised apprehensions on revenue generation as the economy has taken a hit due to the pandemic.

Assam assembly adjourned after ruckus over vaccination drive

When Health Minister Keshab Mahanta said the immunisation programme has been progressing smoothly, the opposition Congress refused to accept it and party MLAs alleged Assam has a shortage of doses

Guwahati: The Assam Assembly on Friday witnessed uproarious scenes during a discussion on the COVID- 19 vaccination drive in the state, which prompted Speaker Biswajit Daimary to adjourn the proceedings of the House.

During the discussion, Health and Family Welfare Minister Keshab Mahanta said the immunisation programme has been progressing smoothly but the opposition Congress refused to accept it, and the party MLAs alleged that the state has a shortage of doses and raised a slogan, ‘We want vaccine’.

Daimary adjourned the proceedings till 3 pm as the BJP and the Congress legislators created a ruckus in the House.

At the current rate of vaccination, it would take 18 months to inoculate all the eligible people in the state, Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia claimed.

Also Read | Assam govt tables Rs 566 crore deficit budget, proposes no new tax

“The government said there would be 3,000 vaccination centres in the state from June but non-availability of vaccines at the camps left people disappointed,” he said.

He also asked what steps the government is taking to hasten the inoculation process.

Replying to Saikia in the Question Hour, the health minister said that 30 per cent of eligible people have been vaccinated so far with seven per cent of beneficiaries having received both doses of vaccines.

Of the 3.5 crore estimated population in the state, about 2.37 crore are above 18 years of age and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

As the Congress MLAs tried to attack him on low percentage of people getting both vaccine doses, the minister said the government cannot be held responsible for it.

“People have to wait for a fixed period between the two doses. The government cannot accelerate the process at its will. A government can be blamed if people have to wait for their doses, but that is not the case here,” he said.

When Congress MLA Bharat Narah claimed that people have been waiting for their second dose, the Speaker asked him to provide the number of such people to the minister.

Mahanta said the health department currently has a capacity to administer 5 lakh jabs in a single day, but the number of vaccinated people per day will depend on the inflow of doses, which is regulated by the Centre.

Also Read: One more police encounter in Assam, drug peddler shot

When Congress legislators once again alleged that the rate of inoculation has been slow, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika alleged that some political parties and organisations have been spreading misinformation about vaccination, creating doubts among people about the vaccines and leading to wastage of doses.

“You may not be satisfied with the reply, but you cannot question it like this. There are provisions for raising it later,” the Assam Assembly speaker said while moving ahead with other supplementary questions on the same issue.

Congress legislator Wajed Ali Choudhury also asked the minister in the Assembly whether vaccination drives are conducted in riverine hospitals of Assam.

Mahanta said such exercise can be arranged as has been for hilly areas of Assam through mobile vaccination teams.

Responding to a suggestion from ruling BJP MLA Rupak Sarma for special arrangements for specially-abled people and senior citizens with illness, Mahanta said, “A standard operating procedure for ‘nearest to home’ vaccination has already been issued for such category of people.” 

Also Read: Almost 30,000 posts in Assam Police lying vacant: Assam CM

'Govt Is Ready for Discussion': Agriculture Minister to Farmer Unions

The minister said he has told protesting farmer unions many times that the government is ready to discuss proposals other than repeal of the laws.

New Delhi: Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday appealed to farmer unions to end their protest and resume talks with the government on provisions of three new farm laws, but he ruled out repeal of these Acts.

The minister asserted that the procurement system on the minimum support price (MSP) and APMC market yards will stay and rather be strengthened.

Tomar’s appeal and assurance has come amid the decision of farmer unions to intensify their strike during the monsoon session of Parliament.

“Through you, I want to appeal farmers unions to think seriously on these issues and end the protest. They should adopt the path of dialogue. And the government is ready for discussion,” he said while replying to a query during a Cabinet briefing.

“There was apprehension that MSP will be scrapped. However since farmers’ protest began, the procurement of foodgrans as well as pulses and oilseeds has risen,” Tomar said.

The agriculture minister said the government’s constant efforts are aimed at making farmers prosperous by increasing their income.

“Farm laws were a major step in this direction. I believe farmer unions should understand their benefits well in time. The entire country is understanding the benefits of these laws,” Tomar said.

The minister said he has told protesting farmer unions many times that the government is ready to discuss proposals other than repeal of the laws.

“We have always dealt with sensitivity as far as farmers’ protest is concerned. The Modi government always has respect for farmers,” Tomar said.

After today’s Cabinet decision on APMC, the unions should believe that APMC will not end, he said. “There is no such provision (to end APMC) in the laws. APMCs are set under the state laws.”

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for more than seven months in protest against the three laws that they say will end state procurement of crops at MSP.

The government and unions have held 11 rounds of talks, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers” protest. Talks have not resumed following widespread violence during a tractor rally by protesting farmers on January26.

The Supreme Court has put on hold the implementation of the three laws till further orders and set up a committee to find solutions.

Three union ministers, including Tomar and Food Minister Piyush Goyal, have held 11 rounds of talks with the protesting farmer unions.

In the last meeting on January 22, the government’s negotiations with 41 farmer groups hit a roadblock as the unions squarely rejected the Centre’s proposal of putting the laws on suspension.

During the 10th round of talks held on January 20, the Centre had offered to suspend the laws for 1-1.5 years and form a joint committee to find solutions, in return for protesting farmers going back to their respective homes from Delhi’s borders.

The three laws — The Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — were passed by the Parliament in September last year.

Farmer groups have alleged that these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.

On January 11, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Bhartiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann had recused himself from the committee.

Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) President Anil Ghanwat and agriculture economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati are the other members on the panel. The panel has submitted the report to the Supreme Court. PTI

Rahul Gandhi attacks PM on GDP, unemployment

New Delhi, Jun 1 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the adverse GDP and unemployment figures and raised the issue of "shortage" of drugs for treating black fungus.



"PM's hall of shame - Minimum GDP, Maximum Unemployment," he said on Twitter and shared a graph showing a rise in unemployment among the youth since 2014.

His remarks came a day after data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that India's economy contracted by 7.3 percent in the fiscal year ended March 2021 after the growth rate picked up in the fourth quarter, just before the world's worst outbreak of coronavirus infections hit the country.

The gross domestic product (GDP) in Asia's third-largest economy grew by 1.6 percent in the January-March period, up from 0.5 percent in the previous quarter when India began pulling out of a steep pandemic-induced recession in the earlier six months.

Gandhi also posed questions to the central government on mucormycosis or "black fungus epidemic".

"What is being done about the shortage of drug Amphotericin B? What is the procedure for helping the patient get this medicine," he said on Twitter.

"Instead of providing treatment, why is the Modi government embroiling the public in formalities," he also asked, but did not elaborate.

After thousands of cases of black fungus were reported among COVID-19 patients in the country, the Centre on May 20 urged all states and union territories to declare it as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act to ensure mandatory surveillance to tackle the "new challenge".

The government had said that the shortage of Amphotericin B shortage will be resolved soon as five more pharma companies have got new drug approval for producing it in India, in addition to the existing six pharma companies.

BJP disses exit poll predictions on Bengal, accepts those on Assam

Exit polls predict West Bengal may be too close to call; suggest a sweep for the DMK in Tamil Nadu; LDF’s return to power in Kerala; win for the National Democratic Alliance in Puducherry; and say the party is likely to return to power in Assam

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has rejected the exit polls that predict West Bengal may be too close to call while accepting the prediction that the party was likely to return to power in Assam. The exit polls for the latest round of assembly elections also suggest a sweep for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, Left Democratic Front (LDF)’s return to power in Kerala, and win for the National Democratic Alliance in Puducherry.

BJP general secretary and West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvarghia insisted the party will form the government in West Bengal with a comfortable majority. “These companies that carry out exit polls based on interaction with people on the ground are not completely familiar with the dynamics of the state. There is a history of violence in Bengal. A lot of people are afraid of voicing their opinion freely. One must also remember that West Bengal has the highest percentage of silent voters. It is anywhere between 18 to 20%.”

Vijayvarghia added there was a perception in 2011 that the Left Front would return to power, but the Trinamool Congress (TMC) emerged as the winner. “Those who vote for the party in power are vocal about it but those who vote for the opposition tend to remain silent out of fear,” he said.

Party leaders cited the 2019 exit polls that failed to predict that the BJP would win 18 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal and emerge as the second-largest party in the state. The latest exit polls indicate that the BJP could win up to 140 seats in the 292-member assembly. Only the Republic TV-CNX poll gives the BJP an edge over the TMC. It has predicted 138-148 seats for the BJP and 124-138 seats for the TMC.

The polls in West Bengal were arguably the most bitterly fought in recent times as the BJP pulled out all stops in its campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah leading from the front. Shah, who was BJP’s chief strategist for West Bengal polls, has been claiming the party will bag 200 plus seats and form the government in the state for the first time.

BJP spokesperson KK Sharma said the work done by the state government in the last five years and the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre has helped the BJP establish itself as a party that has delivered in Assam. “The state leadership of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been able to address concerns and solve problems that had been lingering on for decades of the Congress rule.”

In Assam, the exit polls have predicted 60 to 85 seats for the BJP in the 126-member assembly. The Congress is expected to get 40 to 50 seats.

The BJP contested elections in Tamil Nadu in alliance with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. In Kerala, where the BJP has a lone legislator, the exit polls do not predict any major improvement in its tally.

Exit polls project 2nd term for BJP in Assam; Cong says it isn’t the true picture

Most exit polls on the assembly polls in Assam, which concluded last month, have projected another term for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition in the state

Most exit polls on the assembly polls in Assam, which concluded last month, have projected another term for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition in the state. The exit polls, a poll of voters taken immediately after they exit the polling stations, have projected that the Congress-led alliance of 10 parties will come second while smaller parties clubbed as Others will have a negligible impact.

The votes will be counted on May 2.

The Assam assembly has 126 seats and a party or alliance needs 64 seats to form government.

The India Today predicts the BJP will get 75-85 seats and the Congress, 40-50 seats. A similar projection has been made by the Axis My India poll. News24-Chanakya gives 70 seats to BJP and 56 to Congress. The Republic-CNX poll gives 74-84 seats to BJP and 40-50 to Congress and Times Now poll gives 72 to BJP and 53 to Congress.

“I would not like to go into numbers, but according to me, the BJP and its alliance partners will easily get a majority and form the next government. The final figure may vary by few seats in comparison to 2016,” senior minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma told a local TV channel.

 

In 2016, the BJP came to power by winning 60 seats while its alliance partners, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) got 14 and Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) secured 12 seats.

On the other hand, the Congress won 26 seats and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) ended up with 13 seats. Both parties as well as the BPF, which switched over from the BJP-led alliance, are part of the Congress-led alliance this time.

The ABP-CVoter poll, however, suggests a very close contest between the two alliances. It projects 58-71 seats for BJP and 53-66 to the Congress alliance.

And exit polls have been known to go wrong.

“The exit polls don’t portray the true picture as the sample survey is very small. One can’t decide the result of a seat which has nearly 200,000 voters by talking to 15-20 persons. We are confident of a win and it will be clear on May 2,” chairperson of Assam Congress media committee Bobbeeta Sharma said.

The polls have predicted anywhere between 1-4 seats to ‘Others’; a reference to smaller parties and independents. This includes the two newly-formed parties Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Raijor Dal, which contested the polls together, as well as other smaller parties and Independent candidates who were not part of any of the pre-poll alliances.

“None of the alliances will get more than 55 seats this time and the third force of Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal will play a crucial role in formation of the next government. The exit polls have failed to factor in the young and silent voters,” said president of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) Lurinjyoti Gogoi.

While BJP contested on 93 seats, its alliance partners AGP and United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL) fought from 29 and 11 seats, respectively. The Congress contested on 95 seats and the AIUDF and the BPF had fought elections on 20 and 12 seats, respectively. There were a few friendly contests among the allies in both alliances.

“The exit polls are on expected lines. The BJP encountered a tough election, but they fought it with equal preparedness leaving nothing to chance. The final figures may differ, but according to me BJP has a clear advantage,” said Akhil Ranjan Dutta, professor of political science in Gauhati University.

Exit Poll 2021 Results for West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry To Be Announced Shortly

Will Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dominate West Bengal or Mamata Banerjee return as the chief minister for the third time? What will happen in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry? The exit polls for the four states and one Union Territory will begin after the voting procedure for the last phase concludes in Bengal today evening. The polling will continue till 6.30 pm.

The Election Commission has prohibited the publishing and broadcasting of exit poll results till 7.30 PM on April 29. “Election Commission has notified the period between 7:00 am on March 27, 2021 and 7.30pm on April 29, 2021 as the period during which conducting any exit poll and publishing or publicizing the result of exit poll by means of the print or electronic media or in any other manner shall be prohibited in the ongoing General Elections to the Legislative Assemblies of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry," the poll body had said in an statement.

WEST BENGAL

The eighth and final phase of voting in Bengal is underway today. The Election Commission will conduct the polls on 35 seats across Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Kolkata.

The first round of the polling took place on March 27, followed by the subsequent phases on April 1, 6, 10, 17, 22 and 26 respectively. Counting of votes and declaration of results for all 294 constituencies, as well as the four other assembly elections, will take place on May 2.

Top BJP leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh and party president JP Nadda among others held several rallies and public meetings in different parts of the state.

TAMIL NADU

The single-phase election concluded on April 6 with a voter turnout of 71.43 percent as per the the EC’s voter turnout app. AIADMK ally BJP, which had not won any seat in the last pols, contested in 20 seats. Another AIADMK ally PMK is contesting from 23 constituencies. The Congress, an ally of the DMK, was in the fray in 25 seats. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’ s Makkal Needhi Maiam is trying its luck in Assembly polls for the first time.

KERALA

Kerala’s also saw single phase polling in 140 seats on April 6 with 73.58 percent of the total 2.74 crore voters exercising their franchise. The state is keenly watching a three-way battle between the incumbent Left-led LDF, the Congress-led UDF, and the BJP.

ASSAM

Polling was held in three-phase is Assam on March 27, April 1 and April 6. The BJP is facing the combined challenge of eight parties including the Congress and the AIUDF. The BJP and its allies AGP and UPPL contested 92 seats, 26 seats, and 8 seats respectively while on the other side the Congress claimed 94 seats for itself, AIUDF as allotted 14, Bodoland People’s Front got 12, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) got 2 seats.

PUDUCHERRY

In Puducherry too, polling was also held in single phase on April 6 with a turnout of 81.64 percent. The Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance is vying for power with the AINRC-led NDA in the Union Territory which has 30 Assembly seats. While AINRC fielded candidates in 16 of the total 30 constituencies the BJP is contesting nine seats, while the AIADMK is contesting five seats.

Violence mars sixth phase of Bengal polls

Kolkata, Apr 22  Nearly 80 per cent voter turnout marked the sixth phase of polling on Thursday in West Bengal assembly election, which was marred by sporadic incidents of violence, firing by state police and an assault on a candidate.

According to the EC 79.09 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm in 43 seats where polling was held and is expected to go up further as the polling ended at 6.30 PM.

Elections, which began at 7 am, were held in 43 seats -- 17 in North 24 Parganas district, nine each in Nadia- including Matua strongholds at Bongaon and Krishnanagar and Uttar Dinajpur and eight in Purba Bardhaman.

Matuas make for a large chunk of the state's scheduled caste population. With an estimated three million members, the community influences the outcome in 30-40 assembly seats in Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas districts.

Of the four districts that went to the polls Thursday, Nadia registered the highest voter turnout of 82.67 per cent, followed by Purba Bardhaman (82.15 per cent), Uttar Dinajpur (77.76 per cent) and North 24 Parganas (75.94 per cent).

At Bagda in North 24 Parganas, a mob of about 250 people attacked security personnel outside a booth. A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot to control the situation, the police said.

Police had to fire three rounds to disperse the mob and a person was injured. The officer in charge of Bagda police station and a constable were injured in the attack.

The EC has sought a report on the incident, which brought back memories of the fourth phase of polls held on April 10 when four persons were killed after CISF personnel opened fire in "self defence" outside a booth in Cooch Behar district's Sitalkuchi area.

In another incident in neighbouring Ashoknagar clashes broke out in the area between rivals TMC and BJP activists during which bombs were hurled, police said adding that unidentified people vandalised one vehicle carrying the central forces.

The TMC alleged that two of its activists were injured in firing allegedly by the central forces outside booth number 79 in Ashoknagar's Tangra area after a few party members protested against BJP candidate Tanuja Chakraborty's visit to the area.

"Two of my party colleagues are injured after bullets fired by central forces personnel hit them in their legs. Both are undergoing treatment in a nearby hospital," TMC candidate Narayan Goswami alleged.

The EC, which had sought a report from the officials posted in the district, later dismissed the allegations.

"There was no incident of any firing by the central forces. We have got no such report. This is a baseless allegation," a senior EC official told PTI.

In Ketugram assembly constituency in Purba Bardhaman, BJP candidate Mathura Ghosh was attacked by alleged TMC activists outside a polling booth. His vehicle was vandalised.

The TMC dubbed the allegations as baseless.

At Chopra in Uttar Dinajpur shots were reportedly fired after clashes broke out between activists of the TMC and BJP over allegations of heckling by agents of a polling booth.

Both the parties denied having used any firearm and blamed the opposition for the violence.

The office of the chief electoral officer has sought a report on the incident from the local administration.

At Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur TMC claimed that one of its activists sustained serious injuries after BJP workers allegedly stabbed him. The saffron party has, however, denied the allegations.

Sporadic violence was also reported from Bijpur constituency in North 24 Parganas, where TMC and BJP supporters clashed outside polling booths. Both the parties accused each other of trying to rig votes.

Two supporters of TMC and three of BJP were reportedly injured in the clashes and a huge contingent of security forces was rushed to the troubled areas to control the situation.

At Halisahar area of Naihati constituency, the saffron party alleged that bombs were hurled at the residence of a local BJP leader, whose mother and younger brother are known to have suffered injuries. The TMC and the BJP traded charges against each other for the incident.

In a separate incident in the area, a TMC worker was injured after unidentified miscreants attacked him with sharp weapons.

A number of cases were reported from North 24 Parganas district. In Titagarh area of Barrackpore constituency in North 24 Parganas district too clashes broke out between TMC and BJP supporters. The two sides hurled bombs at each other leading to severe injuries to five BJP activists.

The injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital, official sources said.

Film director-turned-TMC candidate Raj Chakraborty was gheraoed in Barrackpore constituency by BJP supporters, who accused him of influencing voters.

Chakraborty denied the allegations.

TMC supporters had a verbal duel with the central forces in Habra constituency of the same district when the party candidate and state minister Jyotipriyo Mullick visited a polling booth in the area.

In Dum Dum Uttar constituency, a scuffle broke out between TMC and BJP supporters when the ruling party workers opposed the visit of the saffron party candidate Archana Majumdar to the polling stations.

In Amdanga constituency, country-made crude bombs were recovered by police personnel.

The day's polling by over 1.03 crore voters will decide the political fate of 306 candidates in this phase.

A total 1,071 companies of central forces were deployed to ensure free and fair polling in 14,480 polling stations of the 43 assembly constituencies.