Central troops helping BJP, says Mamata

The allegation came on a day central forces were present in 92 per cent of the booths in the third phase of the polls

  • Published 24.04.19, 1:55 AM
  • Updated 24.04.19, 1:55 AM
  • a min read
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Mamata Banerjee at a public meeting in Howrah. Subham Jyoti

Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday accused a section of central forces of asking voters in Bengal to vote for the BJP.

Hours after the chief minister made the allegation at a public meeting in Hooghly’s Arambagh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a rally in Asansol that Mamata was “intimidating” the central forces.

Mamata said her party had lodged a complaint with the Election Commission. “I have heard central forcers were sitting inside booth number 166, 167 at Englishbazar in Malda South and influencing elections. In Itahar (part of Balurghat Lok Sabha seat), they were asking people to vote in favour of the BJP.”

The allegation came on a day central forces were present in 92 per cent of the booths in the third phase of the polls, and the Election Commission indicated the figure would be increased to 100 per cent in the remaining four phases.

“They (central forces) should remember that after Modi goes out of power, they have to work with us.... We, those in the national Opposition, (we) are going to be the ones coming together to form the next government in Delhi,” Mamata said.

With the chief minister steadily toughening her stand against officials and the security personnel deployed by the commission, the situation is gradually taking the shape of a standoff with the poll panel, reminiscent of the Assembly polls of 2016 and the panchayat elections of 2013, conducted with central forces by then state election commissioner Mira Pande.

“Why are they (the central forces) doing these things? I am appalled.... police cannot enter a polling booth. The central forces can, of course, be sent to a state for elections but they should work with the assistance and guidance of state forces and leave,” Mamata said.

The chief minister has earlier accused special central police observer retired BSF director-general K.K. Sharma — replaced with Vivek Dubey — and special state observer Ajay V. Nayak of being partisan. Trinamul has demanded Nayak’s removal after he compared the situation in Bengal with Bihar’s 10-15 years ago.

In Asansol on Tuesday, the Prime Minister criticised Mamata for “intimidating” central forces. “Didi has hijacked democracy in Bengal…inciting party workers to loot votes openly….and intimidate central forces,” Modi said.