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Perturbed over party's strength, BJP seeks norm change for polling agents

Kolkata: After realising the party's poor organisational strength, the state BJP will approach the Election Commission of India to do away with the rule that only local people can be made polling and election agents in the respective areas.

This has happened at a time when the national leaders have predicted that the party would get 200 plus seats in Bengal in the forthcoming Assembly elections and Suvendu Adhikari predicted defeat of Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram Assembly seat by over 50,000 votes.

The decision to approach the ECI came up after party leaders realised that it was not possible to field agents in all 77,000 booths in Bengal. The party requires at least 3.85 lakh workers to be posted in the booths. Any party needs five persons that include two election agents, two polling agents and one stand by person in a booth. The ECI rule stipulates that to become a polling agent one has to be the voter of the respective area. This rule has been made to stop outsiders from entering the booth and also a polling agent is supposed to know the voters of the respective area.

The sole purpose to approach the ECI is to get clearance so that outsiders can be posted inside the booth. The outsiders will create trouble to stop a peaceful election in Bengal, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader said.

Criticising the BJP for moving such a proposal Kalyan Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP said: "It shows the organisational weakness of the party which the leaders have now realised. If the ECI changes this rule then outsiders will be allowed inside the polling booth. They can coerce rural voters or do any kind of trouble inside the polling station." He urged people to resist the "nasty technique to control power in Bengal by hook or by crook by BJP." As the day (January 30) when Amit Shah union Home Minister's visit to Bengal is drawing near, state BJP is faced with stiff opposition by the rank and file demanding not to allow coal mafia and cattle smugglers to join the party.

The party workers had staged a demonstration at Nandigram block II against the joining of Trinamool Panchayat members. The party workers alleged that these members had not allowed them to file nominations during the Panchayat elections. On January 19, BJP workers had demonstrated against the joining of a cattle smuggler. Sukanta Majumdar, party MP from South Dinajpur handed over the party flag to him. Arindam Bhattacharya, TMC MLA from Shantipur joined BJP on Wednesday.

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