CPI(M)’s earlier apprehension of poll rigging in Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat proved correct in the absence of Central Forces in many polling booths during polling for the seat yesterday (30 April). Local TV channels flashed videos of attack on voters and political functionaries alike – a phenomenon the Election Commission (EC) had substantially curbed in the 2009 LS and the 2011 Assembly elections.
Allegations of rigging, booth capturing, assault on Opposition party’s polling agents and violence marked the Lok Sabha poll in Bardhaman-Durgapur parliamentary constituency on 30 April. The picture was however same in all the other eight parliamentary constituencies in Bengal that went into polling yesterday.
The role and intent of the election commission came into question as there was no Central Forces in several troubled areas. On the contrary many polling booths in Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha constituency which do not have any past record of poll violence saw Central Forces being deployed in them.
News agencies report suggests that in many places, Central Forces were kept waiting in Sector Offices and Police Stations. Central Forces making rounds of polling booths in air-conditioned Volvo buses have also been seen.
More interestingly, Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kumar Gupta refused to divulge the number of Central forces that were made available yesterday in the third phase of poll in Bengal.
The CPI(M) alleging reign of terror across the constituencies staged a dharna near Burdwan DM’s office and demanded re-polling in 142 booths in Burdwan (Purba) and 157 Booths in Burdwan-Durgapur seat. Mr Saidul Haque, CPI-M candidate for Burdwan- Durgapur seat, alleged: “In almost all the booths, our party men were intimidated and our booth agents were hounded out from around 100 booths.”
The Left has demanded re-polling in 826 booths spread over the nine seats where polling was held yesterday. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri called on the EC in Delhi to press the demand.
The BJP candidate, Miss Debashree Chowdhury alleged: “A mockery of electoral engagement is what has happened here today. The cell phones of the Observers were found switched off.”
In Durgapur several reports of intimidation by the TMC men came into fore. At least five CPI(M) supporters were admitted in hospitals as they were beaten up by TMC men. In several polling stations there were no polling agents from any of the opposition parties.
Bardhaman district secretary of the CPI(M), Mr. Amal Halder was however optimistic about his parties chance of winning the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat in spite of massive rigging by the Trinamool Congress.
The DM, Burdwan, Dr Soumitra Mohan reported that till 6 pm 85 percent polling was recorded in both Bardhaman-Durgapur and Bardhaman Purba Lok Sabha seats that went into polling yesterday. He further added that this voting percentage was 3 percent higher comparing to the last Lok Sabha election here.