The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Power poles vanish after poll

May 25: Eight months before the rural poll, residents of south Kolsur in Deganga on the city’s northern fringes were thrilled to hear from the CPM panchayat leaders that their homes will finally be lit up. Two months before the election, CPM cadre informed every household that electric posts were being laid. And they were.

True to promise, four concrete poles were laid. More would follow, the residents were told.

But a day after the results were declared, the poles were gone. The reason: No one from the locality apparently voted for the CPM. And so, the locality, which had not seen power since Independence, still did not.

The incident, however, has spurred the district committee of the CPM into an inquiry. “We will find out what happened there,” said district secretariat member and senior CPM leader Amitava Nandy.

North 24-Parganas district magistrate H.K. Dwivedi said he will ask for a report from the district authorities immediately. “Electricity is everybody’s right and no one can remove posts on their own,” he said.

The residents filed a complaint with Deganga police requesting a probe along with defeated Congress candidate Lalima Tarafdar. But to no avail.

Last August, the residents of Ruierati pointed out to the CPM-run panchayat samity that they were being deprived of electricity when about 400 yards away, all the households had power, thanks to the Rural Energy Development Corporation.

The only difference: the villagers there were known to be CPM loyalists.

“We will provide you electricity this year, but please vote for us,” CPM candidate for the panchayat Kalidasi Parui assured during campaign. The residents did not believe her. But when government officials made a survey of the area earlier this year, they did.

Two months before the poll, the CPM cadre pulled out residents to show how things were changing. “We were all pleasantly surprised,” said Tarafdar.

A day after Parui’s win was confirmed, the cadre accused the Ruierati residents of voting for the Congress. Soon, a dozen men were at work, pulling out the posts. Two of them were allegedly carried to the house of a “powerful CPM leader”.

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