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Booth capture order

Burdwan, March 14: Everything is fair in love, war and polls, so “capture”.

A Trinamul minister today gave this message to a Burdwan satrap, known for his alleged strongarm tactics during elections, at a party workers’ meeting in Manteswar.

“Where is Babar Ali? Yes, there you are. Listen to me. There are 18 cases pending against you. In the Lok Sabha polls, you have to play a role. If necessary, you will have to resort to (booth) capturing like you used to do when you were in the CPM. There is nothing wrong in it as our aim is to win the election. Everything is fair in love and war,” said Swapan Debnath, the animal resources development minister and Burdwan (rural) president of Trinamul.

Debnath was addressing party workers at Kusumgram Ekata Mancha in Manteswar, which falls under the Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha constituency.

Ali, who was sitting on the dais, nodded as Debnath gave the instructions. He rose and went up to Debnath, but the minister motioned for him to be seated.

After Ali, who switched to Trinamul in 2010 and was made the chairman of the party’s minority cell in Burdwan, sat down, Debnath said: “There are 273 booths in the Manteswar Assembly segment. I need 20 solid party workers in each booth. The Trinamul candidate must get a lead of 20,000 to 25,000 votes from the Manteswar Assembly segment.”

Debnath said there should not be any difficulty in winning the elections as “most gram panchayats belong to us. Police, the panchayat samiti and the zilla parishad are ours as well as yours. We need not fear the CPM.”

Asked after the meeting about his instructions to Ali, Debnath told The Telegraph he had said “nothing controversial”.

“What I have said is that if terror tactics are used during the polls, we will resist them. I am Ali’s advocate. After he left the CPM, his former party lodged a number of cases against him. I am representing him in court. As he is a leader of our party, I have told him certain things at our workers’ meeting. This is all I can say,” Debnath said.

Ali, who is out on bail in connection with cases of rioting, arson and looting, alleged that the CPM had “framed” him.

Asked if he had captured booths earlier, Ali said: “I have never done such things. I think he (Debnath) did not mean what he said.”