Tension gripped East Medinipur’s Nandigram where Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is locked in a battle of prestige against her one-time acolyte Suvendu Adhikari, now in the BJP. On Thursday around noon, during the second phase of voting in West Bengal, Chief Minister Banerjee was seen sitting outside a booth in Nandigram, monitoring the situation.
Mamata called up Governor Jagdeep Dhankar from Nandigram, expressing her apprehension that “anything might happen at any moment,” media reports said. The TMC has alleged that the Central forces were stopping voters from casting their votes.
Dhankhar later put out a tweet saying, “issues flagged by Mamata Banerjee a while ago on phone have been imparted to the concerned. There is full assurance of the concerned to adherence to rule of law. Am confident all will act in right spirit and earnestness so that democracy flourishes.”
Senior party leader Derek O’Brien has already written to the Election Commission, alleging booth capture by BJP men. “A huge mob of BJP workers entered booth numbers 6, 7, 49, 27, 162, 21, 26, 13, 262, 256, 163, 20. BJP workers attempting to take control of EVM & rigging the booth,” he wrote.
Banerjee, who is monitoring the ongoing voting from her home in Nandigram, left past noon as her party leaders alleged booth capture and rigging by BJP workers. When she reached a polling booth, BJP supporters started chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. The two sides clashed and Trinamool leaders demanded a re-poll in booth number 7.
“There is total breakdown of law and order with the people outside being in the area,” Mamata said. She alleged that goons “from other states are creating ruckus”. She said she has lodged 63 complaints since morning, but the Election Commission had not taken any action.
She said some people who came to Nandigram from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were being protected by Central forces. The TMC had written to the EC earlier requesting that security forces from NDA-ruled states should not be deployed in Bengal. The security personnel from these states, the party alleged, would be biased.