Once a TMC ‘strongman’, Bhatpara MLA Arjun Singh, who jumped ship to BJP in March this year, was allegedly attacked by workers of his former party at Amtalla’s Mohanpur area while elections for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls were under way Monday. In Barrackpur seat, Singh is pitted against TMC sitting MP Dinesh Trivedi. Singh switched over to the BJP after he was denied a ticket by party supremo Mamata Banerjee.
As the poll process kicked off Monday, Singh travelled at least 100 km visiting booths in rural Barrackpur and taking stock of the situation. However, he didn’t venture into Bhatpara where he is an MLA. At many places he was chased away by Trinamool supporters who accused him of disturbing the polling process.
At around 10.40 am at Mohanpur, a woman reached out to Singh saying that her son, a BJP worker has gone missing and that TMC workers have threatened to kill him after election results are out. Singh began a search, found the boy out and made him sit in a booth. As he was leaving the booth, a scuffle broke out between TMC and BJP workers. When he intervened, he allegedly got punched in the face.
While TMC alleged that Singh was trying to intimidate the voters, the MLA claimed that he was attacked for no reason.
“In the presence of local inspector in charge of Jagdal police station, TMC goons suddenly attacked me. They are frustrated and know they won’t win,” he said.
From Mohanpur, Singh then rushed to Naihati after he received information about alleged poll rigging. He went there and faced massive protest from people who raised slogans like, “Go back Arjun Singh”, “Arjun Singh bhago”. To counter these slogans, Singh’s associates also shouted – “Ek hi nara ek hi naam, Jai Shri Ram”. Police and the central forces, however, kept the situation under control.
“I am 200 per cent confident of winning. The only question is by what margin. I will visit all polling booths. There are places where BJP polling agents haven’t been allowed inside,” Singh alleged.
While some voters said it was fine if any candidates visit polling booths till the central forces are there to control the situation, others alleged that with candidates moving around on the premises it gets difficult for them to cast their vote peacefully.
When The Indian Express questioned him on people’s allegation that he was creating unnecessary trouble, Singh said, “I am rushing to places where votes are not being conducted fairly or the ruling party is threatening voters. There are areas where I am confident and hence I am keeping an eye on other areas.”
Though Barrackpur constituency overall witnessed a peaceful vote, few stray incidents were reported from some areas. Scuffles were reported in almost all the areas where Singh visited.
“He is the bahubali (strongman) of the area. What else can you expect him to do?” said TMC MP Trivedi. TMC leader Firhad Hakim also accused Singh of trying to create trouble in Barrackpore. “He is a mastan,” said Hakim.
Trinamool Congress Wednesday had urged the Election Commission to keep Singh under “surveillance”.
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