The Chief Minister makes phone call to Governor complaining against Election Commission
NEW DELHI — West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee got stuck for two hours at a polling booth in Nandigram constituency and had to be rescued by paramilitary forces amid a face-off between supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party and her Trinamool Congress.
According to NDTV the Trinamool supremo made a phone call to Governor Jagdeep Dhankar, alleging that the tense situation was a failure of the Election Commission, which was in charge of the law and order.
“Anything might happen at any moment… There is a total breakdown of law and order,” Banerjee said as she feared for her life.
The TMC supremo, who is wheelchair-bound since the past few weeks due to leg injury, was safely taken out by the security forces who brought the situation under control after hours of negotiations with the villagers.
The governor of the state took to Twitter acknowledging the phone call from Banerjee. He said that he informed the authorities concerned about the issue.
The Election Commission has sought a report on the matter from the local administration.
Nandigram which went for polls today, in the second phase of assembly elections is seen as a hot seat as the Chief Minister is contesting against Suvendu Adhikari, a member of BJP who was until recently a core member of TMC.
The constituency witnessed a highly polarised election campaign with BJP resorting to communal rhetoric to consolidate the Hindu vote.
Reports said that Banerjee decided to make a round of the polling stations after she was informed about alleged booth capture and rigging by BJP workers.She was until then monitoring the proceedings from her home in Nandigram’s Reyapara.
But the moment she reached Boyal chaos broke out. The BJP supporters shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans. She complained that the polling agent from her party had not been allowed inside the booth. The Trinamool supporters gathered.
As the tensions tose the Chief Minister, who enjoys Z-Plus security, stayed confined to a room. The paramilitary forces were trying to calm down two groups locked in a face-off and sloganeering.
“We have no problem with the central forces… It is not their fault… they are our brothers and sisters, but they are here on the instructions of the Home Minister. Why should that be allowed? Why has the Election Commission allowed it?” the Chief Minister said while speaking to the media after she was escorted out. “There is constant slogan-shouting and people of the constituency are not being able to vote freely… Never have I seen an election like this.”
She alleged that “goons from other states are creating ruckus here,” adding that the election commission did not take action on her complaints.
“People who are raising slogans are outsiders. They came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They are being protected by Central forces,” Banerjee said.
The party had demanded that security personnel from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh should not be deployed on election duty as they would be partisan.
Senior party leader Derek O’Brien wrote to the Election Commission about the allegations of booth capture by BJP men. “Huge mob of BJP workers have entered booth nos. 6, 7, 49, 27, 162, 21, 26, 13, 262, 256, 163 and 20. BJP workers attempting to take control of EVM & rigging the booth,” he wrote.
In the morning, party MP Mahua Moitra tweeted, “More than 150 EVM machines malfunctioning since Phase II voting started this morning. Wish @ECISVEEP had put half as much effort into ensuring no EVM glitches as it did into transferring police officials.”