New police arrests were made, and thousands of security forces were sent to the eastern city of Kolkata on Friday May 17th, as tensions mounted ahead of the final phase of voting in India's marathon general election, AFP has reported.
Supporters of prime minister Narendra Modi, and opposition followers, clashed in the eastern metropolis late Thursday May 16th, after Modi held a rally there.
It was the second night of street brawls between activists of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the regional Trinamool Congress (TMC) this week.
Police said at least 26 arrests were made on Friday May 17th, over the latest unrest as they bolstered security before voting on Sunday May 19th.
India's six-week election ends on Sunday May 19th, with the seventh round of voting in eight northern states, including West Bengal, where Kolkata is the capital. The results will be announced on Thursday, May 23rd.
With Modi seeking a second term, but scrambling to hold on to his overall majority, the BJP has been aggressively campaigning in West Bengal, hoping to making gains from the TMC, which controls the state, to make up for losses expected in other states.
An official election observer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there have been more than 300 incidents of poll violence across West Bengal since campaigning started on April 11.
"Kolkata will witness an unprecedented deployment of security forces before Sunday," the official added.
Tens of thousands of troops and paramilitaries were expected in the city of 4.5 million people during the weekend.