West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visits a polling booth at Boyal in Nandigram on Thursday. (ANI)
NANDIGRAM (WB) :
WEST Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday visited several booths across the high-profile Nandigram constituency, where she is pitted against her protege-turned-adversary Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, as sporadic incidents of violence and allegations of booth jamming marred the voting process in the second phase of Assembly polls. After monitoring the situation in the Assembly segment, where local TMC leaders complained that their election agents were not being allowed to enter booths, Banerjee left her rented residence at Reyapara around 1 pm. She then visited polling centres at Sonachura, Reyapara, Balarampur, Boyal, Nandigram block 1 and 2.
In the Boyal area in Nandigram, villagers alleged that BJP supporters stopped them from going to polling booths. As soon as Banerjee reached Boyal, BJP supporters chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans. Supporters of the two parties then indulged in violence, as TMC leaders demanded re-polling in booth number 7, police said. Banerjee on Thursday accused the central forces deployed in her Nandigram constituency of helping the BJP under instructions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. She also alleged Election Commission was following the instructions of Shah and not acting on complaints of alleged irregularities lodged by her party.
Despite sporadic violence and accusations of vote fraud in Nandigram, the TMC supremo said she was confident of victory from the constituency where she had a decade-and-half ago led a farmers’ movement against a chemical hub planned by the then Left Front Government. Banerjee also slammed the Election Commission for “inaction” despite her party lodging several complaints and threatened to move the law courts over it. “We have lodged 63 complaints since morning. But no action has been taken. We will move the court over it. This is unacceptable,” the Chief Minister said seated, in a wheelchair outside booth 7 in Boyal in Nandigram.
“The EC is working on the instructions of Amit Shah,” she alleged. Meanwhile, Adhikari’s convoy was allegedly attacked with stones at two places while visiting booths in the Assembly constituency. His motorcade was also gheraoed as TMC supporters shouted slogans against the BJP leader. Security forces patrolling the area dispersed the mob, making way for his convoy to move onwards. “I am used to such protests by TMC goons. They are all followers of Mamata begum (Banerjee). Let them do whatever they want till the results are out on May 2,” Adhikari told reporters. “The CRPF, BSF are acting under the instructions of Home Minister Amit Shah....they are only helping the BJP,” she told reporters outside a polling station in Nandigram constituency. She demanded that Shah, who had earlier campaigned for Suvendu Adhikari, her rival in Nandigram, must “control the BJP goons brought from outside”.