VIOLENCE, MALPRACTICE MAR ELECTIONS TO 91 BENGAL CIVIC BODIES; COUNTING ON 28 APRIL
By bappaditya paul
VIOLENCE AND ELECTORAL malpractice marked the elections to 91 civic bodies in Bengal on Saturday with at least one political worker falling to bullets and several others, including a few voters, sustaining injuries.
According to provisional figure, the voters turnout stood at around 78 per cent but it may go up by a few notches at final count. The counting of votes is scheduled on 28 April.
Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya declined to make a clear cut assessment about today’s polls but admitted that there were numerous instances of violence, voter and polling agent intimidation, booth capturing and EVM damage.
“The polling in North 24-Parganas, in particular, was vitiated by violence and other electoral malpractices. The elections there were vitiated in about 8-10 municipalities out of the 23,” he said.
After the Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls on 18 April, Mr Upadhaya had stated that the “elections were not held in an ideal environment” and yet the poll panel did not order a re-poll for want of a substantiating report from the concerned poll officials.
Mr Upadhaya today said that during the day, he received about 100 complaints covering 20-odd civic bodies and a bulk of those came from North 24-Parganas.
“We could verify the authenticity of several complaints from the presiding officers and observers, and took measures to ensure that they are not able to deviate from this feedback in their final reports,” he said.
There were four incidents of firing ~ at Katwa in Burdwan, Chandernagore in Hooghly, Basirhat and Bhatpara in North 24-Parnagas. In the Katwa firing, a Trinamul Congress worker was killed.
The poll commissioner said that miscreants damaged web-cams in 6-7 booths and damaged EVMs in at least 7-8 booths, resulting in discontinuation of voting there.
“In one booth in Katwa, the EVM was in fact snatched away and in another booth, a polling official was injured in miscreant attack.”
A re-poll is likely on Monday in several booths but the Commission will take a final call on this on Sunday.
There were also complaints of booth capture, driving out Opposition polling agents and intimidating voters in Bansberia, Seerampore and Rishra in Hooghly, Rajpur-Sonarpur and Maheshtala in South 24-Parganas, and Sonamukhi in Bankura.
Even an earthquake of moderate magnitude that struck Bengal around noon, and the subsequent rains, failed to deter the miscreants.