Assembly elections: Polling not disrupted in Nandigram, says Election Commission
The two observers of the Election Commission, deployed to report on the situation in West Bengal during the second phase of Assembly polls yesterday, made no mention of the chaos in Nandigram's Boyal. The officers implied that pandemonium at the Boyal Moktab Primary School polling booth didn't disrupt the voting process. Notably, the chaos there had lasted for nearly two hours. Here's what happened.
Evidently, the second phase saw a high-stakes battle between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her protégé-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari. It was the Nandigram agitation that helped Banerjee end the Left's 34-year-long regime, hence, the election there turned into a prestige battle for her. By last evening, both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) claimed they were winning the seat.
A huge uproar erupted at the Boyal polling booth yesterday after the mother of a TMC worker pleaded for him to be relieved of his duties. She had begged TMC leaders to not involve her son in the election process. "He is my only child. We have to live here after the elections. We won't be able to," she told a TV channel.
Thereafter, TMC proposed two people as polling agents, but the central forces were dissatisfied with their papers. Around 1:30 pm, Banerjee reached the area on her wheelchair. Once she arrived, villagers from opposing camps shouted slogans at one another. While one group shouted "Jai Shri Ram," another said, "Khela Hobe." As the face-off intensified, Banerjee had to be rescued by paramilitary forces.
Banerjee had also dialed Governor Jagdeep Dhankar from the spot, saying that the top polling body failed to maintain the law and order situation. Repeating her allegations that Election Commission was working with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, she said, "We have lodged 63 complaints since morning. But no action has been taken. We will move the court over it. This is unacceptable."
Later, EC said polling was seamless there. "Polling at PS no. 7 (Boyal Moktab Primary School) is going on smoothly. Hon'ble CM, who is also a contesting candidate, has left the place at about 3.35 pm after staying here for nearly one and half hours. It may kindly be noted that polling was not disrupted at any moment," read the observers' report.