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Sunday, April 11, 2021

On poll eve, prohibitory orders imposed in Nandigram, Tamluk

Nandigram borders sealed, outsiders barred from entering

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: April 1, 2021 4:10:00 am
VVPAT machines, to be used in Nandigram, kept in a strong room in Haldia in Purba Medinipur on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

The Election Commission (EC) imposed prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 in the Tamluk and Nandigram Assembly constituencies in Purba Medinipur district on Wednesday, a day ahead of the high-stakes second phase of the Assembly elections in which 30 constituencies will go to the polls. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is up against her former protege Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram.

Ferry ghats were closed in both Tamluk and Nandigram and the Election Commission said more than two people would not be allowed on two-wheelers.

The Commission’s latest moves came a day after it ordered the transfer of the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Haldia and the circle inspector (CI) of Mahishadal in Purba Medinipur district to non-election assignments following inputs from its special observers. The transfers were announced late on Tuesday. Haldia SDPO Barun Baidya was replaced with Uttam Mitra after the BJP lodged a complaint with the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) alleging that Baidya was close to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). Mahishadal CI Bichitra Bikas Roy was replaced with Jalpaiguri circuit bench inspector Sirsendu Das.

The polling body on Wednesday said the central forces were keeping eye on every movement in the sensitive seats going to the polls. In Nandigram, the EC said it was conducting aerial surveillance in a helicopter. An official said people who are not voters in the constituency were not being allowed to enter the area.

“Nandigram is a sensitive constituency with high-profile candidates like Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari. We want to ensure that the law-and-order situation is not compromised and people can vote freely without fear,” an EC official told PTI.

The order in Nandigram would be valid till April 2 midnight, the official said, adding, “The assembly of five or more persons excluding poll personnel and voters is prohibited within 200 metres of the polling premises. No mobile phones and wireless sets will be allowed within 100 metres of the polling premises, except by persons on election duty.”

The Commission said 23 general observers, nine expenditure observers and six police observers would monitor the second phase, with 800 companies maintaining security.

Of these companies, 22 have been deployed to Nandigram along with 22 quick response teams.

Sources said 286 video cameras and 3,049 CCTV cameras had been placed to monitor all the 30 constituencies. Nine Assembly seats each in the two Medinipur districts are at stake, followed by eight constituencies in Bankura and four in South 24 Parganas. The EC will conduct live recording at 5,535 booths, and has appointed 1,915 micro observers for the second phase. In the Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas, drones will be used to monitor proceedings.

Apart from the high-profile seat of Nandigram, where the United Front’s candidate is CPI(M) youth leader Minakshi Mukherjee, the other prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be decided in this phase are former IPS officers Bharati Ghosh and Humayun Kabir in Debra in Paschim Medinipur district. Ghosh is the BJP candidate and is up against Kabir, who has been fielded by the TMC. Tollywood star Sohom Chakraborty is the TMC candidate from Chandipur in Purba Medinipur district, while Manas Bhuiyan is leading the ruling party’s charge in Sabang in Paschim Medinipur district. Actor Sayantika Banerjee is the TMC candidate in Bankura. Some of the prominent names from the Opposition camp who will be contesting the polls tomorrow are former India cricketer Ashoke Dinda, who has been fielded from Moyna in Purba Medinipur while Tollywood star Hiranmoy Chattopadhyay is the candidate in Kharagpur Sadar in neighbouring Paschim Medinipur.

Of the 171 candidates in the fray in this phase, 19 are contesting from constituencies in South 24 Parganas district, 58 in Purba Medinipur, 41 in Paschim Medinipur and 53 in Bankura. Nineteen candidates are women. The EC said while the two main parties, the TMC and the BJP, would contest all 30 seats in the second phase, the BSP has fielded candidates in seven constituencies.

The United Front alliance of the Left Front, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) will be trying to break the stranglehold of the two main parties. The CPI and the Foward Bloc are contesting two seats each, the CPI(M) 15 constituencies, the Congress nine.

According to the Commission, 10,620 booths have been set up for the polls, with more than 47,000 people on election duty. Voting will start at 8 am and end at 6 pm.

(With inputs from PTI)

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