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|14 May, 2019

BJP and regional party supporters clash in India's West Bengal

The BJP has been pushing hard in populous West Bengal

Image used for illustrative purpose. Activists from the Democratic Students Organisation (DSO) shout slogans as they scuffle with police during a protest in Kolkata June 11, 2013.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Activists from the Democratic Students Organisation (DSO) shout slogans as they scuffle with police during a protest in Kolkata June 11, 2013.

Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

NEW DELHI  - Clashes broke out in the state of West Bengal between supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a major regional party on Tuesday after a campaign event for the country's continuing general election, local police said.

The eastern state has seen sporadic violence between supporters of the BJP and the Trinamool Congress throughout the election, which is taking place in seven phases and is due to end on May 19. Votes are due to be counted on May 23.

The BJP has been pushing hard in populous West Bengal, which elects 42 lawmakers, to make up for seats it fears losing in northern India, which could make it hard for Prime Minster Narendra Modi's BJP to secure a clear majority.

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The violence broke out as BJP president Amit Shah was holding an election rally in state capital Kolkata.

"Several supporters on both sides sustained injuries when clashing supporters pelted stones and soda water bottles," said Rajesh Kumar, commissioner of police in Kolkata.

West Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who leads the Trinamool Congress and is seen as a probable candidate for prime minister if the BJP loses, accused the ruling party of bringing "goons" from other states to the rally and asked for more checks on vehicles by police.

(Reporting by Subrata Nagchoudhury; Writing by Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Catherine Evans) ((Aftab.Ahmed@thomsonreuters.com;))

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