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Bengal BJP wants special observer probed

Calcutta, May 12: The last phase of the elections ended today in Bengal in a chorus of phrases like “partial farce” and “reign of terror” as Opposition parties targeted the poll watchdog and the ruling Trinamul amid calls for a fresh vote in 800 booths.

The CPM, Congress and the BJP accused Trinamul of rigging and intimidating voters, while the Election Commission (EC) came under attack for not being “pro-active” enough.

State BJP president Rahul Sinha came across as the most vocal in his criticism of the poll panel. “Trinamul repeated what it had done in the third and the fourth phase by jamming booths and intimidating voters,” Sinha said, before pointing an accusing finger at Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, the special election observer for Bengal.

The BJP candidate for Calcutta North said the party would write to chief election commissioner V.S. Sampath for a probe into Rakesh’s role as special observer. “We have doubts that the special observer has a nexus with Trinamul and a probe is necessary to unearth the allegation,” he added.

Sinha accused Trinamul activists of rigging polls in over 200 booths in Diamond Harbour by intimidating party agents. “Trinamul let loose a reign of terror since morning in several booths spread over Bishnupur, Falta and Metiabruz in the Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha seat.”

He said party agent Jayanti Das was thrown out of a booth in Dum Dum where the BJP had fielded former state chief Tapan Sikdar. “Had the Election Commission been pro-active enough, such incidents could have been avoided,” Sinha said.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose alleged a “vote loot in more than 800 booths” and said his party could demand a repoll in all. “Today’s elections were a simple mockery of democracy.... Incidents of booth capture occurred. The commission did not play its expected role as the ruling party rigged the polls in quite a few places, though there was uninterrupted polling in some places,” Bose said.

“So, what I can say is that partially the elections were a farce today. We will meet the EC tomorrow and decide on the repoll demand.”

State Congress spokesperson Nirbed Roy said “Trinamul goons” rigged the polls in several booths across Garden Reach under Calcutta South. “We shall demand a repoll after getting full reports from the 17 seats (that voted in Bengal today).”

Police sources said Narayan Dasgupta, a teacher in Chakdah College, Nadia, and member of the CPM zonal committee, was beaten up by suspected Trinamul activists when he was returning home around 6.45pm. Committee secretary Amal Bhowmik said Dasgupta had been admitted to Chakdah State General Hospital.

A doctor at the hospital said Dasgupta had been advised a CT scan of the brain.

Dipak Chakraborty, president of the Trinamul town committee in Chakdah, said his party was “not involved” in this incident. “There must be some other reason behind the assault.”