Outsiders brought in to disrupt poll process in Bengal: Mamata
Nandigram: Amid a section of villagers alleging that they weren't allowed to cast votes at a polling booth in Boyal (East Midnapore), Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee rushed to the spot to oversee the poling process herself and claimed that 'outsiders' were disrupting the poll process. Banerjee interacted with the villagers there who alleged that 'outsiders' cast false votes there.
Banerjee said: "My fight is to safeguard democracy."
Villagers also claimed that the TMC booth agent was not allowed to sit there. They alleged that 'outsiders' rigged votes in the absence of any booth agent of TMC there. Getting information about the rigging, Banerjee stepped out of her temporary residence at Reyapara in Nandigram and went to the booth in Boyal around 1pm.
Meanwhile, the law and order situation outside the booth deteriorated after some BJP workers from outside allegedly surrounded the booth. Banerjee could not step out of the booth as the situation outside was not conducive for any leader who enjoys Z-category security. Banerjee also stayed back to ensure that the poll process went on without any further trouble.
Hundreds of BJP and TMC supporters had gathered outside the booth amid loud sloganeering of 'Jai Shri Ram.' The situation was somehow managed by the efforts of handful of policemen. Amid inadequate deployment of Central Forces at the spot, the policemen were struggling to pacify a face-off between irate BJP and TMC workers.
The wheelchair-bound TMC supremo, who ensured that no rigging of votes take place at the booth, called up Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar to inform about the poor law and order situation and lack of Central Forces. After a considerable time, security personnel of Central Forces were rushed to the spot to tackle the face-off between the workers of both parties.
Banerjee stayed at the booth till the Election Commission officials including General Observer Hemen Das and Police Observer Asutosh Roy followed by special police officer Nagendranath Tripathi reached the spot.
Banerjee claimed that TMC had lodged about 63 complaints with the EC regarding incidents of manhandling of polling agents and terrorising voters at Boyal, Kadambari, Birulia and Gokulnagar. However, Banerjee alleged that none responded to the complaints.
Banerjee alleged that the situation was worse at Boyal Primary School, where booth jamming took place. Meanwhile, Banerjee asked Tripathi that why such a large number of people had gathered within 200 metres of the polling station. She also asked that how come 80 per cent votes got polled within 1pm and her party's polling agent was beaten up. In reply, Tripathi said he would take care of the situation.
"I would leave the place provided you assure that the law and order situation would not deteriorate further after I leave the place as already three workers of my party fell victim to violence due to this election," she said.
Banerjee left the booth at around 3.10 pm only after the situation in the area was brought under control. Banerjee also lodged a complaint with the EC and Nandigram police station in this connection. She wrote the complaint letter sitting outside the polling booth. Later, Banerjee claimed that Central Forces were not acting due to the instructions given by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Later, BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari had also visited the same booth later. He casted his vote at Nandanayakbar Prathyamik
Meanwhile, allegations of not allowing voters to cast their votes at booths in Nandigram Bus Stand, Khodambari, Gokulnagar and Birulia had cropped up. Trinamool Congress polling agent was allegedly kept under house arrest at ward number 105 at Khodambari II Gram Panchayat anchal.
Banerjee also moved around different places starting from Gokulnagar, Sonachura and Osmanchawk after leaving Boyal. TMC workers at Osmanpur informed Banerjee that two of their youths were picked up by police for no valid reason. Banerjee spoke to the district's SP Sunil Yadav and urged him to take necessary steps in this regard.