2 dead as violence hits India state poll



Two people died as the second phase of voting in a violence-marred Indian state election kicked off on Thursday, officials said, with crowds of opponents clashing on the streets despite a ban on large gatherings.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party and the firebrand leader of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, are caught up in a fierce battle for the eastern state renowned for its high levels of political violence and murders.

Campaigning in the town of Nandigram has been particularly intense, with 66-year-old Banerjee — one of Modi’s fiercest critics — contesting the seat against a former confidante who defected to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last year.

Hundreds of supporters of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party and the BJP clashed outside polling stations in Nandigram on Thursday, despite an Election Commission banned on gatherings of more than four people.—AFP


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