Nandigram Ruckus: Mamata Threatens to Move Court, Calls Governor
The second phase of polling was marred by violence in some parts and allegations of booth capturing in Nandigram.
Amid voting for the second phase of the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday, 1 April, threatened to move court, alleging that the Election Commission was not was not taking cognisance of the complaints being raised by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Banerjee also spoke to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar from a polling booth in Nandigram and urged him to take action, declining to divulge any further details of their conversation.
The complaint from the CM came when she was sitting outside Booth No. 7 in Nandigram’s Boyal, where, TMC alleged, that many voters were unable to cast their ballot.
Banerjee was reportedly stuck in the booth for two hours, as trouble erupted between two opposing groups. According to The Wire, she was finally helped out from the booth around 3.45 pm on Thursday by the police and central forces.
“We see all outsiders here. They are not locals. At least 80 percent chhappa vote (rigged, bogus voting) is being cast. They didn’t allow the locals to vote,” she told Dhankhar over the phone from the polling booth and urged him to look into the matter.
Later in the day, Governor Dhankhar said that the issues raised by her will be looked into by those concerned. He added that he is “confident all will act in right spirit and earnestness so that democracy flourishes.”
As reports of alleged booth capturing by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and ruckus and violence at several polling booths emerged on Thursday, including those in Keshpur, Debra, and Ghatal, Banerjee informed that the TMC had lodged at least 63 poll-related complaints since morning, but no action had been taken by the EC, PTI reported.
Commenting on the “Jai Shri Ram” slogans raised by a group of people when she visited the booth in Boyal, Banerjee called them “outsiders” brought to create a ruckus.
“People who are raising slogans are outsiders. They came from Bihar and UP, they are being protected by central forces,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.
What Did the EC Say?
Responding to the claims made by Banerjee and the TMC, the Election Commission said that General Observer Hemen Das and Police Observer Ashutosh Roy were asked to visit Booth No. 7 where the alleged incident had happened.
“Polling at Booth No. 7 ( Boyal Moktab Primary School) is going on smoothly. Hon’ble CM, who is also a contesting candidate, left the place around 3.35 pm after staying here for nearly one and a half hour. It may kindly be noted that polling was not disrupted at any moment,” the report from the two observers stated, even as a huge contingent of central and security forces was deployed in Nandigram to resolve the chaos that occurred on Thursday.
Suvendu Adhikari Weighs In
Casting aspersions at Banerjee after the incident, BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari said: “..her behaviour shows she has lost the elections. She is just trying to grab some attention. Without the sacrifice of Suvendu Adhikari and the lives of 41 people, Mamata Banerjee could never have become the Chief Minister of Bengal in 2011,” The Indian Express quoted.
He went on to laud the efforts of the EC, saying that the polls conducted have been free and fair, “This time, I am not with her and, therefore, she will not be the Chief Minister this time. Every day, she has flouted EC guidelines and lied. I am happy with the elections. The central forces have done a good job and the Election Commission has ensured free and fair polls.”
Polling Day Marred By Violence, Ruckus
Earlier on Thursday, TMC MP Derek O’Brien had written to the Election Commission, alleging capturing of booths numbered 6, 7, 49, 27, 162, 21, 26, 13, 262, 256, 163, and 20.
Reports of disturbance had surfaced from Paschim Medinipur’s Keshpur where a TMC worker was allegedly stabbed to death early on Thursday by a group of 10-15 people. The victim’s kin alleged that they were “BJP goons”.
According to ANI, a BJP polling agent at booth number 173 in Keshpur was allegedly attacked by TMC goons.
Keshpur’s BJP candidate Tanmay Ghosh’s vehicle was also damaged allegedly by TMC supporters. Reports of ruckus also emerged from Debra and Ghatal.
O'Brien had tweeted: “BJP and their mind games! Won’t work.”
“Trinamool booth agents ROCK SOLID in 354 booths in Nandigram. We have registered complaints for 10 specific booths. All attempts by CRPF to influence/intimidate voters not working[sic.],” he tweeted.
He further stated that the people of Nandigram were determined to have Banerjee as their MLA.
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