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Friday, October 4, 2013

WEST BENGAL: Another Round of Farcical Elections

WEST BENGAL
Another Round of Farcical Elections

From Our Special
Correspondent in Kolkata

ELECTIONS to 12 municipalities in West Bengal witnessed another round of terror and rigging by the ruling party in complete association with the state administration and police. Like in the panchayat elections that were held around one and half month ago, the elections to these municipalities were once again disturbed with intimidation during the campaign period and finally with booth capturing in many areas.

In Burdwan, Left Front candidates and campaigns were repeatedly attacked. On the day of elections, TMC miscreants stormed the booths in a planned manner after around 10 a.m. and chased away Left polling agents. Even the candidates were not allowed to go near the polling booth. The voters were attacked and threatened with dire consequences. In a novel and unabashed manner, TMC miscreants guarded the polling area and EVM machines and forced people to press their symbol on the machines. Left Front’s election camps were ransacked and armed bike-borne TMC gangs roamed in the whole city. Repeated appeals to state administration and state election commission for intervention were in vain. Left Front finally was forced to withdraw all candidates and agents from the fray. The results showed the extent of rigging as TMC won all 35 seats and in many wards the ruling party candidates got more than 90 per cent votes.

The scene was more or less repeated in Chakdaha municipality in Nadia. There also Left Front decided to withdraw all candidates and TMC won in all seats. In Panihati, in North 24 Parganas, TMC storm troopers captured booths after around 9:30 a.m. They chased away Left polling agents and forcibly dispersed voters’ lines. There was resistance in some areas but that was also quelled with the police intervening to help the ruling party goons. The situation worsened and state election commissioner herself rushed to the area. She witnessed a total chaos and people in two wards vented their anger to her. Voters categorically alleged that TMC miscreants have prevented them from voting. SEC openly criticised about the security situation and police officials. But nothing changed substantially. Left Front demanded repolling in 23 wards but SEC paid no heed to this demand. Panihati was also forcibly won by TMC.

In Habra, another municipality in North 24 parganas, TMC armed gangs even threatened the presiding officer with guns and captured booths. The polling officers themselves described the horrific situation in media too. Despite the terror people tried to exercise their democratic rights and partially this was reflected in the result. Left Front won 8 wards here while TMC won 15 seats.

The Left Front won Mekhliganj in Coochbehar with 8-1 margin. In Alipurduar, Left Front won 8 wards while Congress and TMC won 6 each. Congress won Haldibari and Dalkhola. In Diamond Harbour, TMC won the municipality although LF won three seats more than 2008 elections. Its vote share also increased by 4 per cent.

Biman Basu condemned the terrorisation and opined that these elections have not reflected the real public opinion in many places. He also criticised the state election commission for the failure to ensure democratic elections in the state.


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