Amid the third phase of the Assembly Election in West Bengal on Tuesday, several political parties – from the TMC to the BJP – raised questions on the role of Central forces in conducting “free and fair election”.
From the first phase of the polls, the ruling TMC, including its president, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has alleged that Central forces were trying to “make an impact” on the voters. However, on Tuesday, BJP candidate in Falta, Bidhan Parui, and BJP candidate in Diamond Harbour, Dipak Halde, alleged that central forces “did not discharge their duty: to conduct free and fair election”. They alleged that at many places, the ruling party was “hand in glove” with central forces’ personnel. On the other hand, TMC candidates and in some places, United Front candidates also complained against Central forces, saying that the personnel were “acting at the behest of BJP”.
BJP’s Bidhan Parui claimed, “We have complained to the Election Commission but no action was taken.”
Another BJP candidate, Dipak Halder, also alleged that many voters in Haridevpur were “intimidated” into not voting. A voter and local resident said, “We went to cast votes but some persons showed firearms and threatened us not to vote. We complained to the authorities concerned but no steps were taken.”
The TMC also alleged that Central forces’ personnel were “intimidating” voters and the polling agents. The TMC made similar allegations against Central forces in Bishnupur, Kultali and Satgachhia.
TMC candidate in Diamond Harbour, Pannalal Sarkar, said, “Central forces are intimidating voters in many places and they are favouring BJP workers.”
His CPM counterpart, Pratikur Rahman, said, “I cannot say that I am fully satisfied with the role of Central forces. Overall, this election was not free and fair. Central forces did not take an initiative to to bring voters from house those who were in fear.”
In the major part of the Diamon Harbour Sub-division of South 24 Parganas district, polling was peaceful. In some places some stray incident happened, no casualty was reported so far.
In Raidighi, veteran CPM leader Kanti Ganguly, who had a key role in supporting local residents in the wake of Cyclone Amphan, on Tuesday toured the constituency. He went to polling booths in remote areas by motorcycle. In Lalpur area, some TMC supporters questioned why Kanti Ganguly is visiting the booths.