BJP demands re-polling in 297 West Bengal booths; protests inside CEO chamber
New Delhi, April 12 (IANS): A BJP delegation on Friday approached the Election Commission (EC) demanding re-polling in 297 booths in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituency that voted on Thursday in the first phase of polling.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation also urged the poll body to ensure deployment of central forces in all polling booths for free and fair elections.
The delegation, comprising Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and its media head Anil Baluni, submitted to the EC a memorandum, accusing the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of rigging during the first phase of polling.
“TMC goons prevented people from voting in West Bengal on Thursday. We demanded re-polling and stationing of two CAPF soldiers in every booth in the state,” Naqvi told reporters.
Hitting out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, he said: “There were instances of rigging and booth capture… ‘goondagardi’ (hooliganism) was done by TMC’s ‘goondas’ during the first phase of polling.”
Cooch Behar’s BJP candidate Nishit Pramanik had held a protest in front of the District Magistrate’s office on Thursday evening, demanding a re-poll in all the booths where central forces were not deployed.
Intensifying their protest against stray incidents of violence during and after elections in Cooch Behar, BJP leaders on Friday held a sit-in demonstration inside the chamber of West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), demanding deployment of central forces in all booths in the remaining phases of the Lok Sabha polls.
State Bharatiya Janata Party leaders initially commenced their protest demonstration in front of the CEO’s office and later, they met CEO Aariz Aftab and squatted on the floor inside his chamber.
“You defer the elections, if you do not have adequate forces. Central forces must be deployed in all the booths,” party leader Mukul Roy told Aftab during the protest.
Roy, who had jumped ship from the Trinamool to the BJP, demanded an order from Aftab’s office regarding the deployment of central forces in all the polling booths by tonight. Otherwise he threatened to commence the protest in front of his house.
He had earlier said: “People’s perception is that official of the CEO office have somehow or other been managed by local administration.”
They alleged that a large number of voters including women were prevented from exercising their franchise by Trinamool Congress-backed miscreants, with the police remaining silent spectators.
They also accused the ruling party of rigging the north Bengal Lok Sabha seat during the first phase of polling in West Bengal on Thursday.
Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from the constituency in which an EVM was smashed and an opposition candidate was heckled and his car damaged.
The saffron party had urged the Election Commission to declare “all the polling booths in the state as super sensitive” and also to announce “Bengal a sensitive state”.
However, there were no fatalities and nobody sustained any serious injury, with the special police observer describing polling as “peaceful and fair”.
Cooch Behar’s BJP candidate Nishit Pramanik held a protest in front of the District Magistrate’s office on Thursday evening, demanding a re-poll in all the booths where central forces were not deployed.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Left parties on Friday demanded a re-poll at 63 booths as they were captured, they alleged, by the Trinamool’s goons.
“Sixty-three booths in Cooch Behar were captured by the Trinamool Congress goons and central forces were mostly deployed in Cooch Behar city which was not sensitive. Most sensitive booths were covered by the police personnel,” All India Forward Bloc’s leader Naren Chatterjee said after meeting the Election Commission officials.
“We demand re-poll in all 63 booths as the first phase election in the state was not free and fair,” he said.