People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 30, 2006
HIGH turnout and an incident-free day marked the second phase of polling in the
four districts of Howrah, Hooghly, Midnapore east, and Nadia on April 22, 2006.
More than 65 per cent votes were cast by the time the clock wound past three in
Basu, chairman of the Bengal Left Front and secretary of the Bengal unit of the
CPI(M) has extended his felicitations to the people of the state for the high
turnout, for guaranteeing that the voting passed off absolutely peacefully
everywhere, and for ensuring that the scattered and feeble attempts at
disruption by the worthies of the Bengal opposition fell woefully by the
harsh sun beat down mercilessly from a shiny and cloudless sky throughout south
Bengal on the day the polling took place. Long
queues formed from very early in the morning outside the voting stations keeping
the election officials on their toes in the task of ensuring the polling
commenced on time.
in the first phase of the assembly elections, women dominated the early morning
lines of voters, and a large number of women in the rural constituencies could
be seen with children slung across the back or cradled on a sling.
district of Midnapore east would
present a different picture as in the past.
Here, the boro paddy season is
in full swing. The kisans and the khet mazdoors
would finish their allotted field work before taking a bit of rest and a bit of
food under the cool of the shady banyan
and pipal trees before going to the
polling stations, cheerful and in a festive mood.
apparently rattled a section of the centrally-deputed election officials who
would frown on this cheerful but late afternoon rush on the booths, and were
subsequently made to get attuned to the reality of the situation.
some areas of the four districts, polling got off to a delayed start. The voters
waited patiently out in the sun while the election officials readied the
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’s).
could well have been avoided had they listened to the repeated plea of the Left
Front chairman Biman Basu who had earlier called upon the concerned officialdom
at the booth level to ensure that all
the EVM’s inclusive of the spare ones were in good working order well
beforehand during the pre-poll ‘test runs.’
delay caused no ripple of discontent or impatience among the voters of south
Bengal who had come determined to exercise their democratic right and to cast
unforeseen incidents of an awkward nature did take place in Hooghly
during the day. At Pursura and Uttarpara, the Left Front candidates
themselves found their way barred while trying to get into the booths.
sometime tryingly long had to be entered into with the sepoys
and officers of the central para-military forces (CPMF), and ultimately
elections officials’ intervention saw the imbroglio solved, but not without
leaving behind some bitterness that could easily have been avoided.
similar incident occurred in at least one booth in the Arambagh constituency.
at the Seoraphuli constituency, a camp office of the Left Front candidate was
unceremoniously and with great brutality pulled down by security personnel
despite the office having been outside of the prescribed 200 meters limit. The
LF workers showed admirable restraint here in the face of great provocation.
Pursura in a market place, the CPMF suddenly ran riot late in the morning and
ransacked and tore down several shops. In protest, the shopkeepers downed
crafty if twisted imagination of the audio-visual media was then seen at its
worst when the scene of shopkeepers closing shops were shown ad
nauseum on several channels throughout the day as the polling went on, but
without any reference to what had caused the shopkeepers to act in the manner
they did. What was subtly hinted at
was that this was all in ‘protest against the Left Front’s mis-rule.’
was free of even such marginal happenings. At Egra, though, some Trinamul
Congress goons beat up a CPI(M) worker who was later rescued by other CPI(M)
workers. The Trinamul Congress
braves ran away.
Nadia, the Bargatchia booth at Nakashipara witnessed armed Trinamul
Congress hoods terrorising the voters and quizzing them in a threatening manner
as to why would they vote for the Left Front all the time, and not for the
Trinamul Congress. When the voters
united to chase the ruffians away, the local Trinamul unit gave a grand call for
‘boycotting the polls’ that was promptly ignored by the voters.
in a similar and desperate vein did the Trinamul Congress spread rumours about
‘riots and clashes taking place in the area in the Haringhata constituency'.
When it was found that the whole effort was a sham and a lie, the irate
voters gave the local Trinamul chiefs a good chase.
was interesting to note that in great many places in Khanakul and Goghat
stretches in Hooghly where the
Trinamul Congress ‘warriors’ had once terrorised villagers for nights
together during the last assembly polls, the outfit found it hard put to come up
with polling agents in a great many polling booths.
the end of the day, the Trinamul Congress chieftain accompanied by a supporting
chorus from Bengali news dailies like the Bartaman
again came up with the grim forecast that a ‘silent revolution in the ballot
boxes would see the Left Front totally routed.’
There were very few takers even among the Bengal opposition for this
somewhat desperate prediction.