Friday, May 11, 2001,
 Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Poll violence claims 13 lives
65 pc voter turnout in Assembly poll
Tribune News Service and UNI

New Delhi, May 10
An average of 65 per cent of the 13.30 crore electorate cast their votes to seal the fate of over 5,000 candidates in today’s Assembly poll in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry, in which poll-related violence claimed nine lives (13 according to UNI), including three paramilitary personnel.

In Assam, ignoring the ULFA threats to disrupt the poll, about 65 per cent voters cast their ballot. The state had witnessed the killing of nearly 40 persons, including leaders of some political parties, in the run-up to the elections.

Contrary to the apprehension of large-scale violence in Assam, the state witnessed sporadic poll-related incidents, The Election Commission has ordered repolling on May 12 in 64 polling stations in Karbi Anglong and Kokrajhar districts, where three paramilitary personnel were killed and four others were injured.

Six deaths were reported from Assam and five from West Bengal in violence during the polling. One man died in Pondicherry. Two voters collapsed and died during voting in Kerala.

Two of the persons killed in Assam during the day were security personnel. Three persons were killed and as many CRPF jawans injured in an ambush by suspected militants of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity at Bokajan in Karbi Anglong district. Two Bodos were hacked to death by Santhals in the Gossaigaon constituency following which a Santhal was killed in retaliatory action by Bodos, official sources said.

Polling in Assam was also marred by stray incidents of snatching of election material, burning of a jeep and rigging at some booths.

In West Bengal, five persons, including two Trinamool Congress supporters and one CPM worker, were killed and 20 injured in scattered incidents in different parts of the state. A polling officer died of a heart attack and another of diarrhoea during the day. The police opened fire at three places in Midnapore, Murshidabad and Malda districts to chase trouble-makers away.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said polling was, by and large, peaceful in the state.

Byelections were also held today for the Lok Sabha constituencies of Tiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Shahjahanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Midnapore (West Bengal) as well as for the Assembly seat of Banamalipur in Tripura.

The election in the Dibrugarh Assembly constituency in Assam has been countermanded following the killing of BJP candidate Jayanta Dutta on May 1 by suspected ULFA activists.

Polling was held for 234 seats in Tamil Nadu, 294 in West Bengal, 140 in Kerala, 125 in Assam and 30 in Pondicherry.

West Bengal, where the Election Commission has ordered a repoll in 14 polling stations, witnessed some violence, including a bomb-throwing incident in which three persons were killed and 10 others injured.

The highest polling was recorded in Kerala (73 per cent), followed by West Bengal (71 per cent), Pondicherry and Assam (65 per cent each) and Tamil Nadu (58 per cent), the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr M.S. Gill, told newspersons here this evening.

Expressing satisfaction over the conduct of the poll, the CEC said in a lighter vein: “The level of violence is seriously disappointing”.

He expressed happiness over the incident-free poll in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

On the use of 1,60,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs) spread across 1,58,000 polling stations, the Chief Election Commissioner said, “We are proud of the successful use of the EVMs.”

Poohpoohing the allegations levelled by some political parties, especially the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, about tampering of some EVMs in the state, Dr Gill said the voting machines were handled very well by the polling staff.

MIDNAPORE: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Thursday described the polling in West Bengal as a farce alleging large-scale rigging in many parts of the state.
There was “total rigging” in Garbeta, Keshpur, Pingla, Dantan, Bankura and Arambagh, she said while addressing newspersons here before leaving for Kolkata in the evening. “Polling has been reduced to a farce in these areas,” she said.



Cong may be major gainer

New Delhi, May 10
The Congress is set to emerge as a major gainer in today’s “mini general election” wresting power in Assam and Kerala and sharing it in Tamil Nadu with the J. Jayalalitha-led Secular Front, knocking out the NDA and the Left Front from these states, says an exit poll on Doordarshan this evening.

TAMIL NADU: The AIADMK front led by Ms J Jayalalitha is set to wrest power from the ruling DMK, winning 125 of the 234 seats while the DMK-led front will get 105 seats in a close fight in Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.

ASSAM: The Congress is likely to form the government in Assam, winning 60 of the 126 seats while the ruling AGP-BJP combine will get only 33 seats.

WEST BENGAL: The ruling Left Front is likely to scrape through in the state, winning 150 of the 294 seats, with the Trinamool Congress combine close behind with 138 seats.

KERALA: The Congress-led UDF is set to get a two-thirds majority in Kerala with 100 of the 140 seats while the ruling LDF is poised for a drubbing with only 37 seats. UNI


EC orders repoll in 75 stations

New Delhi, May 10
The Election Commission today ordered repoll in 64 polling stations in Assam and 11 in West Bengal in the wake of clashes, ballot snatching and other electoral malpractices during voting for Assembly elections.

“Repoll in more stations will be ordered tomorrow as reports from the states are still pouring in,” Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill told reporters here after polling concluded for the assembly elections.

The repoll would be conducted on May 12, a day ahead of the counting of votes on Sunday.

Voicing “a sense of relief” over the low level of violence in sensitive states like Assam and West Bengal, Mr Gill said that contrary to expectations and concern of the state governments over the one-day poll, voting went off “satisfactorily” and was “essentially peaceful”. PTI

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