Robbed of their confidence,tables apparently turned in Nandigram,as once a dominant CPM now looks wary and fears that violence will erupt during the polls.
The CPM claims that is has not been able to place its polling agents in 53 of the total 228 booths and has appealed to the Election Commission for protection to its agents and voters.
The administration is also taking no chance for Mondays Assembly by-elections and have made unprecedented security arrangements.
We have decided to put two micro observers at booths where CPM has allegedly failed to put its agents. We have banned motorbikes. All the booths have been declared sensitive and we have deployed micro observers in all the booths. Unwanted vehicles,without proper permission will not be allowed to enter Nandigram. We are doing whatever is possible to ensure free and fair polls, said Choten Dhendhup Lama,District Magistrate of East Midnapore.
More than 3,000 security personnel will be deployed for the by-elections here. The Election Commission has deployed seven companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) and eight companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) here. Apart from this,around 1,500 personnel from the state police will be involved in the poll process.
All the routes,28 in number,connecting Nandigram and Khejuri have already been sealed.
At all border-junction routes,BSF jawans have been deployed for patrolling and have set up check-points. Riverine routes will also be patrolled by the paramilitary forces.
On Sunday afternoon,a group of evicted people belonging to the Trinamool Congress were brought to Satengabari from their temporary settlements. They were accompanied by police and CRPF jawans.
About 1,80,367 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in Nandigram on Monday. Among them,2,876 voters have no electoral photo identity cards.
A visit to the villages here reveals an uneasy calm prevailing with no clashes between the warring CPM and Trinamool Congress. During the panchayat polls,locals belonging to Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) were worried about police and armed CPM goons and had doubted the fairness of the polls. But,this time,the situation has totally changed with most of the villages coming under
Trinamools domination and many being out of bounds for CPM cadres.
The CPMs district leadership is not enthusiastic about its partys prospects. Ashok Guria,a CPM district secretariat member,said: If people can exercise their rights freely at each booth in the trouble-torn villages,we will win the polls. Many of our party workers and supporters are still staying outside their villages after being driven out by the Opposition cadres. We have lodged complaints with the Election Commission,but a day before the polls,most of our evicted cadres are yet to return home.
A visit to Jalpai,Basantibazar,Maheshpur,Hazrakata,Sonachura,Kalicharanpur,Kendemari and Boyal,reveals that none of the CPM cadres have dared to come out on the streets to speak in favour of their party.
I have been repeatedly threatened by the Trinamool workers and warned against campaigning for our party. I have been only allowed to stay in my village as I have obeyed their instruction, said Harun-al-Rashid,a former CPM panchayat upa-pradhan of Jalpai village.
The Opposition,on the other hand,is confident of a win here. Those who campaigned in favour of the Trinamool candidate Firoza Bibi said,The CPM has no organisation base left in these villages,since people have rejected them. We will win.