Clashes during rally in West Bengal injure several

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Rival political supporters on Tuesday clashed with rocks and sticks during an election rally by the Bharatiya Janata Party in eastern India, leaving several people injured and a university college vandalised.

Police say they used sticks to disperse the rivals as West Bengal state prepared for the seventh and final round of voting for 543 parliamentary seats in India’s national elections on Sunday.

Several motorbikes and bicycles were set on fire, police said.
A big street procession, led by Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, was greeted with black flags by rivals who chanted “Shah Go Back.” That triggered clashes between the two groups.

Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, a lawmaker member of the regional Trinamool Congress said the BJP supporters also damaged the statue of a state educator, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

Police arrested 100 workers belonging to both parties after the clash, the New Delhi Television news channel reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP is seeking re-election in the voting held in phases. The counting is scheduled to begin May 23.

On Tuesday, top BJP leaders Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met Election Commission officials in New Delhi and demanded strict security arrangements to prevent violence in the state. They blamed rival Trinamool Congress party workers for violence.

Naqvi accused Mamta Banerjee, the top elected official of the state, with provoking her Trinamool Congress party workers to attack the BJP supporters. Banerjee denied the accusation.
The BJP is trying to improve its tally in West Bengal state, the stronghold of the Trinamool Congress party which controls 34 of 42 parliamentary seats. The BJP won only two parliamentary seats from the state in the 2014 national elections.

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