“Central forces will do their duty and Anubrata Mondal will do what he has to,” is what Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district president said on Saturday, a day after the Election Commissioner (EC) put him under round-the-clock surveillance and ordered that all his activities be recorded till the whole election process is over in the state.
If Saturday is anything to go by, Mondal is keeping his promise.
At 11 am, Mondal set off from his residence at Nichupatti — personnel of central forces had been deployed outside his house since 2 am on Saturday — in Bolpur to visit the 11 constituencies of Birbhum, which goes to polls on Sunday.
As Mondal’s dark grey SUV sped away, the rest of the entourage — two Mahindra Boleros with police personnel, one Tata Sumo ferrying jawans of central forces and another Bolero with Deputy Magistrate Mrinmoy Das — had a torrid time following his car even as they clocked 100 kmph.
Mondal’s first stop was at the party office in Nanur, where he spent about 15 minutes speaking to party workers. Later, he left for Labhpur and then to Sainthia in Mayureswar before stopping at Tarapith for a lunch break for his workers and those accompanying him.
At all party offices, Mondal held closed-door meetings with his cadres. No personnel of central forces were allowed inside. For instance, at Shatpalsha party office in Mayureswar, party workers pulled down the shutters down after Mondal went inside. The members of the surveillance team waited outside.
Amit Banerjee, the man engaged to videograph Mondal’s movements was seen waiting outside all party offices. “What can I do? I am shooting as much as I can and would submit the same to the district magistrate’s office at regular intervals. I am carrying a hard disc of 500 GB space to record video footage,” he said.
To add to the trouble, the Tata Sumo carrying jawans of central forces, did not have enough fuel. “We have already covered over 70 km and I have fuel for another 45 to 50 km. I had asked for more fuel but did not get it. I have spoken to the deputy magistrate and if more fuel is not allotted, the vehicle would stop midway,” driver Salim Seikh said. It was only in Tarapith that Seikh received a call from the Bolpur SDO and was given additional fuel.
In the evening, when Mondal was meeting party workers at Rampurhat, the deputy magistrate reportedly asked him to return to his constituency. In reply, Mondal asked for a written order. When asked, Das said: “I am doing what I have been asked to do. I cannot talk to the media. For any comments, you will have to talk to the district magistrate.”
Mondal, meanwhile, was more forthright.
“The deputy magistrate asked me to return to the constituency from where I am a voter… I said I would like to see a written order. I will not violate any rule if there is any such order from the EC. But even if I have to return to my constituency, I will have to cross Suri and Mollarpur, where I will stop for a while to meet party members,” he said.