West Bengal election: Stuck between TMC-BJP ruckus, Mamata dials Governor
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday dialed Governor Jagdeep Dhankar after supporters of her Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clashed at a polling booth in Nandigram. Banerjee claimed that "goons from other states" were creating a ruckus. Nandigram is among the 30 Assembly constituencies going to poll on Thursday in the second phase of the state elections.
Anything might happen: Banerjee told Governor
Complaining to the Governor, Banerjee said, "Anything might happen at any moment...There is a total breakdown of law and order," as she feared for her life. The Election Commission was in charge of the law and order at the booth. Banerjee, who is bound to a wheelchair since suffering a leg injury last month, had to be escorted out by security forces.
Villagers shouted 'Jai Shree Ram'; TMC supporters gathered
Banerjee was monitoring proceedings from her home in Nandigram's Reyapara. After TMC leaders alleged booth-capture and rigging by BJP workers, she left to visit polling booths. When she reached Boyal, she found that the polling agent from her party had allegedly not been allowed inside. Reportedly, villagers started shouting "Jai Shree Ram" and TMC supporters gathered. This was followed by a clash.
Banerjee was stuck inside a room at polling booth
As the situation turned hostile, Banerjee stationed herself inside a room of the polling booth. Meanwhile, security forces outside were videographed trying to broker peace between two rowdy groups raising slogans.
Bihar, UP goons creating ruckus: Banerjee
Banerjee alleged that "goons" from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were creating a ruckus and they were being protected by central forces. "No action has been taken by the Election Commission," she claimed. The TMC had also written to the EC earlier requesting that security forces from NDA-ruled states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh not be deployed as they will be partisan.
'Never seen an election like this'
Banerjee told reporters, "We have no problem with the central forces...It's not their fault...they are our brothers and sisters, but they are here on the instructions of the Home Minister. Why has the Election Commission allowed it?" "There is constant slogan-shouting and people of the constituency are not being able to vote freely...Never have I seen an election like this," she added.
TMC leaders allege booth capture, malfunctioning EVMs
Senior TMC leader Derek O'Brien has written to the EC alleging booth capture by BJP workers. "Huge mob of BJP workers have entered booth no.s 6, 7, 49, 27, 162, 21, 26, 13, 262, 256, 163, 20. BJP workers attempting to take control of EVM and rigging the booth," he alleged. TMC MP Mahua Moitra claimed that over 150 EVMs were malfunctioning on Thursday.
Issues with EVMs largely resolved: EC
The EC said that problems relating to EVMs had largely been resolved. It has sought a report on the matter from the local administration. The Governor also tweeted saying, "Issues flagged @MamataOfficial a while ago on phone have been imparted (sic) to the concerned."
80.43% voter turnout till 5:30 pm
30 Assembly constituencies—including Nandigram, where Banerjee is contesting against BJP turncoat Suvendu Adhikari—went to poll on Thursday in the second phase of the eight-phase West Bengal election. The state recorded a voter turnout of 80.43% till 5:30 pm in the second phase, according to the Election Commission of India. The votes will be counted on May 2.