Allegations, counter-allegations mark poll eve in West Bengal

On the eve of the crucial last phase of Lok Sabha election in West Bengal, opposition political parties alleged violence by the Trinamool Congress and accused the Election Commission of not acting over complaints, while TMC chief Mamata Banerjee claimed that opposition parties were indulging in false propaganda.

PTI| Updated: May 11, 2014, 23:46 PM IST

Kolkata: On the eve of the crucial last phase of Lok Sabha election in West Bengal, opposition political parties alleged violence by the Trinamool Congress and accused the Election Commission of not acting over complaints, while TMC chief Mamata Banerjee claimed that opposition parties were indulging in false propaganda.
Congress candidate for Beharampore Lok Sabha seat Adhir Chowdhury, who is also the WBPCC president, termed EC observers as "toothless tigers" and said that his party`s confidence in them had been `demolished`.

"You are all toothless tigers. All our confidence has been demolished totally," Chowdhury told an EC-appointed police observer at Rejinagar in Murshidabad district, when the official asked him to exercise restraint.

Trinamool Congress supporters allegedly beat up Congress workers with sticks and were forced to remove a blockade set up at Rejinagar by the latter, according to some reports.

Chowdhury, the Murshidabad strongman, told his party workers, "You can`t expect me to take you in my arms and go around. If you can`t resist on your own, then you don`t need to be in Congress. You must resist and take up sticks and stock bricks on rooftops. Go to jail if you have to."

Mamata Banerjee claimed that some parties were deliberately playing "dirty politics and trying to do the politics of riots" while the CPI(M) is doing "the politics of natak (drama)".

"Some people have lost the elections even before polling. They are spreading false propaganda," she said appealing to voters to vote peacefully and fearlessly.

Brushing aside allegations of rigging in the last four phases, Banerjee asserted, "Trinamool doesn`t have to resort to rigging to win polls."

Without naming Saradha chit fund scam or any of the accused, she said, "No one takes more action than me. Even if the people are from my party, I take action whether it is my MP, MLA or councillor".

BJP state president Rahul Sinha, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya and CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb separately met chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta and EC-appointed observer for West Bengal Sudhir Kumar Rakesh and alleged pre-poll violence by the ruling party in the state.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose accused the ruling party of indulging in violence and terrorizing Left workers.

Talking to reporters after meeting an injured Sayandeb Mitra, state president of CPI(M)`s youth wing DYFI at a hospital, Bose said "the police is not doing its duty. What is the police doing?"

Mitra was injured in a clash allegedly between the TMC and CPI(M) at Belghoria in the northern outskirts of the city last evening.

The CPI(M) has also alleged that its party workers were thrashed at Cossipore in north Kolkata this afternoon by alleged TMC activists.

Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya complained to the CEO that incidents of violence against opposition party workers had occurred in several places in the metropolis like Garden Reach and Beliaghata and Saktipur, Ghatal and Chakdah in the districts.

Meanwhile, EC Special Observer for West Bengal Sudhir Kumar Rakesh said that stern steps were being taken in all reported cases of violence to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polling.

"There is nothing to panic. People must be able to cast their votes without any fear. Whatever happened in the city, the EC has taken all possible actions immediately and City Police Commissioner Surojit Kar Purokayastha has been asked to come out with an official statement," Rakesh told reporters.

Kar Purokayastha has also been asked to act strictly to thwart any bid to terrorise voters, he said adding cases have already been initiated regarding violence at Beleghata and scuffle with police officers at Cossipore.

Seventeen constituencies in South Bengal go to the poll tomorrow, of which 14 are held by the Trinamool Congress, while the Congress, CPI and SUCI have one each.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polls, the Election Commission officials said here adding that immediate response would be ensured in case of any violence.