06:30 GMT11 April 2021
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    The Election Commission of India has divided the 294 seats of the West Bengal assembly into eight zones for voting. Voting in the first zone will be held on 27 March while voters in the eighth zone will cast their ballots on 29 April. The election results will be declared on 2 May 2021.

    With four days left before the first phase of elections in the state of West Bengal commences, the governing All India Trinamool Congress has made a formal complaint to the Election Commission of India against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Suvendu Adhikari for "harbouring criminals". 

    Leaders of the Trinamool Congress have been claiming that the BJP "hired goons" to threaten the people of the state in order to win the election.

    "These goons might visit households and ask women with folded hands to vote for them or face the threat of being herded out. Be ready to chase them away with cooking utensils", Mamata Banerjee cautioned voters, especially women, during a public rally in the Bankura district of West Bengal on Monday.

    Suvendu Adhikari has been fielded by BJP against Trinamool Congress head and state chief, Mamata Banerjee, in the Nandigram constituency.

    ​In a letter to the Election Commission of India, a powerful Indian organisation accountable for holding free and fair elections, Derek O'Brien, leader of the Trinamool Congress wrote that "Adhikari has been harbouring criminals, who are non residents of Nandigram, at various locations".

    Providing images, Derek O'Brien, listed four houses where these "criminals" have been put up. 

    The Trinamool Congress leader complained that though the local police have been informed, no steps have been taken. "We request you to immediately intervene and give directions to the police to apprehend all the outside anti-social elements hired and harboured by Suvendu Adkhikari".

    In the run up to the election, the state has recorded 663 cases of poll-related violence in which 57 people lost their lives, as per the federal Home Ministry.

    The BJP, which has never been in power in the state, won 18 of the 42 seats in play in West Bengal in the 2019 elections. Its vote share increased from 10.16  percent in 2016 to 40.64 percent. The TMC then secured 211 seats in the state.

    Related:

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    Three Reportedly Injured as Crude Bombs Hurled in Poll-Bound West Bengal
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    West Bengal, Elections
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