| A policeman on election duty leaves Serampore College for his place of posting. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, May 21: A security net has been cast over Bengal, where 79 municipalities vote tomorrow, after the state election commission declared about a fifth of the 5,362 polling stations 'sensitive'.
The commission today asked the state administration to deploy adequate number of police personnel in all the polling stations to maintain law and order.
Chayan Mukherjee, additional director-general of police, law and order, said over 40,000 police personnel have been sent to the polling stations. Voting will begin at 7 am tomorrow and continue till 3 in the afternoon.
In past elections, about 50,000 policemen used to be deployed for all the 150-plus municipalities.
Officials of the commission said counting will take place on May 25 and results are expected the same day.
On the eve of the poll, police rounded up 8,606 people and seized 52 firearms, 176 live bombs, 7 kg of explosives and 12,688 litres of liquor.
Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee alleged that the CPM would rig the elections by driving away her party's workers from polling stations. 'The CPM cannot win the polls without resorting to violence. But our party workers will certainly defend themselves if they are attacked by CPM cadre,' she said.
CPM politburo member Anil Biswas refuted the allegation and said the polls would be fair and peaceful. 'I have asked party workers not to be provoked by members of the Opposition who may try to trigger violence on one plea or the other. We are sure to fare better this time,' he added.
Mamata, however, threatened to 'teach the CPM leadership a lesson' for accusing her of 'making money over deals by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation along with mayor Subrata Mukherjee'.
Reacting to the Front's election manifesto in which the allegation was made, she said it was a 'pack of lies which show the Left Front chairman's (Biman Bose) bad taste'.
The manifesto accused Mamata and the mayor of 'fighting over the share of bakhra (unauthorised income) in connection with the deals undertaken by the civic body during the past five years'. Mamta said the Front chairman ought to have known what political courtesy means.
Mamata said her party was ready to face political criticism from the Marxists. 'But why are they making personal attacks amounting to character assassination'
Asked what her party would do if the allegation was not withdrawn, she said: 'We will resort to an extreme step'. Mamata did not rule out filing a defamation suit against Bose.
Reacting to the Left Front chairman's threat to conduct an inquiry into the 'corruption of the Trinamul-BJP-run CMC board,' Mamata said: 'We are not afraid of any probe. The CAG has brought serious charges against departments controlled by the ruling party in its successive reports. Let the CPM first answer those charges.'
A Trinamul Congress nominee, Rajen Haldar, was beaten up in Kalyani, reportedly by CPM activists. Haldar, the president of the Trinamul's Kalyani town unit and a party nominee from ward number 5 of the Kalyani municipality, was beaten up after he protested against a campaign meeting by some CPM activists.