The Theban brothers Eteocles and Polynices in the Greek plays penned by Aeschylus and later Sophocles were mortal enemies, whose lives and deaths gave the world tragedies for the stage. More than 2,400 years later in modern Bengal’s Murshidabad, two brothers pitted against each other divided by political ideology are playing on a similar theme, though not as gruesome as the Theban plays.
Zaidur Rahman, the Congress nominee for the Shamshergunj Assembly constituency which went to polls on September 30, along with Bhowanipore and Jangipur, is the younger brother of the Jangipur MP from Trinamul Khalilur Rahman. Khalilur is also the president of the local Trinamul unit and man in-charge of all matters political on behalf of the ruling party, which has uprooted the Congress from its traditional stronghold in the last decade or so.
Khalilur Rahman Anandabazar Patrika Online
On the day of polling, Zaidur wrote two letters, one to the returning officer and the other to the police observer for the by-election in the constituency.
In the letter to the returning officer, Zaidur alleged that Congress polling agents were forced to leave the polling premises in booths 174 and 175 and with the alleged active connivance of presiding officers, the Trinamul agents ensured all votes went to the, Trinamul nominee Amirul Islam. On polling day Islam was heard reminding women voters queued outside the booth about Lakshmir Bhandar, the Mamata Banerjee government scheme that provides women with cash-in-hand.
The second letter from Zaidur, while demanding repolling in booths 162, 163, 168, 169, 170, 171, 174, 175 and 180, warned the police observer about the possibility of electronic voting machines being “snatched by Trinamul goons” while on transit to the counting centres.
So far, no such incident has been reported. Counting in all the three constituencies, along with one in Odisha, will be held on Sunday, October 3.
“We have brought the issue to the notice of the Election Commission,” said Adhir Chowdhury, state Congress president and Berhampore MP.
While Jangipur remained largely peaceful, in South Calcutta’s Bhowanipore, from where Mamata Banerjee is seeking re-election to continue as CM for the third straight term, there were instances of outsiders coming to vote and vehicles of Opposition leaders coming under attack.
The reason behind the Trinamul’s going the whole hog in Shamshergunj, a part of the Maldah South Lok Sabha constituency, is that even in its worst days, the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Congress voters had outnumbered both the Trinamul and the BJP by 7,939 votes. Though Shamshergunj is in Murshidabad district, it comes under the Maldah South Lok Sabha seat.
The Congress nominee had received 73,054 votes in the previous Lok Sabha polls, while Trinamul managed 65,115 votes. Maldah South was among the few seats from Bengal that went to the Congress.
“I have stopped thinking (about counting). The only thing I got from the authorities is assurance. I have left it on the people of Shamshergunj,” said Zaidur.
The Congress nominee said he hadn’t discussed the issue with his MP brother who is in the rival camp. "I have not spoken with him,” said Zaidur.
The Jangipur MP dismissed his brother’s claim. “This is not about brothers. Didi made me an MP, party comes first,” said Khalilur.