People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 23, 2006
Brisk voting in progress at a polling booth in the first phase
first phase polls to the Bengal assembly held in the three ‘red clay’
districts of Midnapore west, Bankura, and Purulia remained free, fair, and
peaceful keeping alive the tradition of the state under the Left Front. The
Bengal CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front have congratulated the political
maturity of the people of the state for this to have been possible.
polls were held in 21 assembly constituencies in Midnapore west, in 13
constituencies in Bankura, and for 11 seats in Purulia.
turnout was impressive with close to 70 per cent polling completed in a large
number of booths by the time it was 4.30 pm. Big queues continued to form even
after the official closing time of five in the afternoon, outside of most of the
polling stations and in all three districts
big and naggingly continuous noise made in a section of the media that the
Maoists’ vote boycott call would be a ‘huge success,’ has sounded as
embarrassingly hollow after the polls as the anti-communist rhetoric that these
scions are paid to churn out, day in, and day out.
Basu, state secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI(M) and the Bengal Left Front
chairman was happy when he said that the free, fair, and peaceful polling was
basically due to the consciousness of the mass of the people who turned out in
their lakhs in the districts right from early in the morning to exercise their
democratic right of casting ballots.
Basu especially drew the attention of the media to a very large turn out of
women who rose early, came out of the households, and formed the first queues in
front of the polling stations well before the scheduled start of the polling
from seven in the morning.
commenced slightly behind schedule in some booths because of
mysterious malfunctioning of the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs.
It was found, for example in booths under the Balarampur constituency in
Purulia, that the press on any button on the machine would produce a vote in
favour of the Trinamul Congress. The
errors were subsequently rectified.
was one ugly incident involving an observer at Indus under PS Patrasayer in
Bankura district. On entering two
booths, Nos 10 and 13, the said observer, finding only CPI(M) polling agents in
the booths, allegedly shouted at the CPI(M) polling agents that it devolved on
them to produce election agents of the
the CPI(M) polling agents denied that there was any such decidedly awkward
proviso in the Election Commission guidelines, the observer flew into a great
rage. He asked them to ‘shut up
or face dire consequences.’ He
then stormed out of the booths onto the queues and reportedly asked the people
lining up three questions repeatedly and in a threatening manner:
do you vote for the CPI(M)?’ ‘How
much money does the CPI(M) give you to do this?’
‘How much liquor is supplied to you by the CPI(M) for your coming out
to vote for the CPI(M)?’
were expectedly and very quickly getting out of hand and it was only the rushing
in of senior officials that saved the day.
Basu called the alleged behaviour of the observer a shameful exercise.
He also commented to say that for some weeks now, the Trinamul Congress
chieftain had made statements, and which had appeared in the media, wherein she
had declared that the ECI ‘was working in favour of us.’
another incident at Nayagram in Midnapore west, a presiding officer protested
the uncalled for harassment of voters by some members of the paramilitary
forces. He was promptly slapped
down by the paramilitary personnel and the situation became critical. Senior
officials later intervened, pacified the injured presiding officer and the
few cases of vote boycott were reported during the day but in all the instances,
local issues and not political matters were involved, said Biman Basu.