Netaji Indoor Stadium, the counting centre for the Calcutta North Lok Sabha seat, being readied for Friday. Picture by Bibhash Lodh
Calcutta, May 15: The Left today expressed apprehensions of manipulation in tomorrow’s vote counting process and demanded that the Election Commission ensure the presence of observers and security forces at all counting centres.
Addressing journalists at Alimuddin Street, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “We have strong apprehensions that the Trinamul Congress will try to manipulate the counting process. We saw that in last year’s panchayat elections and fear a repeat.”
“So we demand that the EC deploy observers inside every counting centre. Adequate security forces should be present inside and outside the counting venues. There should not be any complacency on the commission’s part,” he added.
Since the third phase of Lok Sabha polls in Bengal, the CPM and other Opposition parties have been critical of the commission’s role and had questioned the conduct of special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh.
Bose, also the CPM state secretary, had even demanded Rakesh’s removal, a call echoed by state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury.
Bose today said the poll panel should act in a neutral manner on the day of counting.
“Earlier, we have seen how Trinamul prevented our counting agents from entering centres. They even switched off lights inside counting halls to resort to unfair means. This is a crucial election and the poll panel should not show any sort of laxity in their preparations,” he said.
Bose alleged that Trinamul activists had been intimidating Left cadres since yesterday and warning them against going to counting centres tomorrow.
“We know that the police are hand-in-glove with Trinamul, which is desperate to win most seats. So the ruling party will try its best to adopt unfair practices. That’s why we are appealing to the EC,” Bose said.
In North 24-Parganas, CPM candidates repeated their allegation that Trinamul had resorted to “terror” tactics during the last phase of polling on Monday.
The Left’s Asim Dasgupta, Subhashini Ali, Mortaza Hossain, Debes Das and Nurul Huda are contesting from the Dum Dum, Barrackpore, Barasat, Bongaon and Basirhat constituencies, respectively.
Dasgupta alleged that Trinamul had created terror in the district’s villages and prevented Left agents from entering booths.
“We have experienced Trinamul anarchy on polling day. So we feel the commission should maintain strict vigil on the day of counting at all venues. No outsider should be allowed entry into the counting centres,” he said.
Trinamul all-India general secretary Mukul Roy said the CPM was spreading canards against his party. “Their organisation is in a shambles. They know they are not going to win the elections. That is why they are making baseless comments,” he said.