West Bengal election 2016: Oppn goes to EC about TMC ‘terror’, ‘idle’ forceshttps://indianexpress.com/article/elections-2016/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-election-2016-tmc-terror-idle-forces-oppn-goes-to-ec/

West Bengal election 2016: Oppn goes to EC about TMC ‘terror’, ‘idle’ forces

While CPM alleges violence and booth capturing in various constituencies, Congress claims party candidate was beaten by TMC cadre.

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Voters queue up at polling booths in Burdwan and Bankura on Monday. PTI

THE CONGRESS and the CPM complained to the Election Commission (EC) against Trinamool Congress workers Monday, citing instances of alleged violence and intimidation of voters. CPM central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu met the Chief Election Commissioner while the Congress sent a series of letters to the Election Commission.

“There have been widespread intimidation of voters, violence, obstructing voters from going to the polling booths, mounting attacks on opposition polling agents. Even the leader of the Opposition of the current assembly and Secretary of the CPM West Bengal state committee, Surjya Kanta Mishra was heckled in his assembly constituency Narayangarh,” Basu said in a memorandum.

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“Despite repeated assurance from ECI, central forces were not used for area domination before the polling day and were virtually kept idle during the polling,” Basu said. “However, what was most unacceptable was the attitude of the officials manning the electoral machinery. Despite repeated complaints, they were not responding; often switching off their mobile phones. There have been a few instances where even central observers would not be contacted. But the most monumental lapse was on the question of deployment and disability of central forces for building confidence of the voters so that they could exercise their franchise in a free and fair manner.”

The CPM memorandum said violence and booth capturing took place in Keshpur, Chandrakona, Garbeta, Kharagpur, Pingla, Ghatal, Sabang, Narayangarh and Keshiary, while the Congress alleged its candidate in Bishnupur was beaten by Trinamool workers and claimed booth capturing and intimidation of voters in Durgapur West, Kharagpur and Kharagpur Sadar.

In Kolkata, Left Front chairman Biman Bose held a press conference to allege, “The EC has been advertising about encouraging people to cast their vote, but in many areas, it couldn’t come up with measures to ensure that.” Bose too said central forces had “failed to play an active role” and that the EC couldn’t counter the “environment of terror” created by TMC. “Our polling agents were assaulted, abducted and driven away, voters intimidated and our complaints regarding al that went unaddressed,” he said.

Surjya Kanta Mishra added that while he didn’t have “faith in the police or administration”, he had faith in the Election Commission. “There have been incidents in Jamuria, Pandaveswar and Raniganj (Burdwan), Patrasayer (Bankura) and Keshpur and Garbeta (Medinipur West), but the people have withstood all these intimidating tactics,” he said.

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Senior Congress leader Manas Bhunia added that since Sunday, TMC “goons have been on the prowl” to “intimidate voters and polling agents”. “Such is the situation that we are not getting polling agents. There has been widespread violence, voter intimidation, polling is far from peaceful in Sabang,” he alleged.