West Bengal election: EC rejects Mamata's discrepancy claims at Nandigram
The Election Commission of India on Saturday rejected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's allegations of disruptions at a polling booth in Nandigram. In a strongly-worded letter, the polling body said Banerjee's claims were "factually incorrect" and "devoid of substance." West Bengal is undergoing Assembly elections and two of out eight polling phases have already been held. Here are more details.
All allegations mentioned by Banerjee factually incorrect: EC
The EC responded to Banerjee's complaint—dated April 1 (phase II of polling)—regarding booth capturing and the presence of outsiders at a polling booth in Boyal. Citing on-ground reports, the polling body said, "It is self-evident from the perusal of all the reports that the allegations mentioned in your hand-written note are factually incorrect, without any empirical evidence whatsoever and devoid of substance."
'Matter of deep regret'
The EC said it has received seven complaints from Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC). The EC said that it is a matter of deep regret that a "media narrative was sought to be weaved hour after hour to misguide the biggest stakeholders which is the voters by a candidate who also happens to be the honorable CM."
EC contemplating action under sections of RPA
Further, the EC said it is examining what happened on the day to merit any action under various sections of the Representation of the People Act. Section 131 in the RP Act calls for a penalty for disorderly conduct in or near polling stations. The same is punishable by up to three months or a fine or both.
No violence, voter intimidation: EC
According to the EC, there was no report of any violence or intimidation of voters. The polling body has dismissed Banerjee's contention that the TMC's polling agent was not allowed to enter the polling booth.
What happened on April 1?
Nandigram, where Banerjee is contesting against BJP turncoat Suvendu Adhikari, had gone to poll on April 1. After TMC leaders alleged booth-capture and rigging by BJP workers, Banerjee reached a polling booth in Boyal. At the site, BJP and TMC supporters had clashed, creating a ruckus. Banerjee was forced to hide inside a room and had to be escorted out by security forces.
Banerjee claimed 'outsiders' created ruckus
Banerjee had claimed that "goons from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh" were creating a ruckus. She said they were being protected by central forces. She also accused the EC of inaction over her complaints of alleged poll-related irregularities in Nandigram lodged by the TMC.
Banerjee at loggerheads with EC
Mamata Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the EC since it declared a first-of-its-kind marathon eight-phase election in Bengal and replaced the state police chief. Earlier, the CM had also accused the commission of failing to maintain the law and order situation in the state during elections. She has further accused the EC of partisanship under the orders of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.