People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 19

May 17, 2009

 


Polls Largely Peaceful In Bengal

B Prasant


The people responded to the threat of violence posed by the whole array of the Bengal opposition and their running mates plus the professional musclemen – and the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls passed off generally peaceful.


Not that the Trinamulis and the Congress goons did not try to make it otherwise—and the scattered armed attacks left one CPI(M) worker killed, and scores of others – twelve at the last count – seriously injured in the 11 Lok Sabha seats that saw close to 75 per cent polling as we file the report. The long queues that are reported from almost everywhere outside of the booths mean that the percentage will go up at least by 5-7 per cent, when the final count is made.


The seats that saw polling on May 13, 2009 were the two Kolkata seats, south and north, and Bongaon, Barasat, Dumdum, Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Barrackpore, Basirhat, Joynagar, and Mathurapur.


Describing the election as keeping with the heritage of the electoral scene in Bengal over the past 31-odd years, Biman Basu, CPI(M) Bengal secretary and Bengal Left Front chairman said that all attempts at major disruption was made null and void by the large-scale popular participation in the election which is always a festive occasion in this state with the populace coming out in their ‘Sunday best,’ and flaunt the EPIC as a badge of honour.


At Ashoknagar, under Barasat constituency, Professor Sudin Chattopadhyay, the Left Front candidate’s car was smashed up. At Salt Lake, several goons were arrested complete with car for trying to sneak in arms. The worst kind of rumour was carefully planned and spread around by the Trinamulis to cause or at least start a chain of events leading to violence.


They started to speak convincingly of the place of worship of the Motua sect having been attacked by the ‘CPM.’ Ganapati Biswas, a priest of the Motua’s was quick enough with a countermanding rejoinder that made the propagators sink back in despair. This was the worse that the state came to the edge of tension. The day otherwise passed off normally – and in Bengal normal on poll day means attempt at (thankfully sporadic) violence by the opposition.


At Bhangar, three CPI(M) workers received serious injuries and several others wounded from a burst of bombs lobbed by the Trinamuli hoods. Though injured, the workers did prevent the outsiders from capturing the booths. At Joynagar the tragedy of the day, entirely avoidable, occurred when a CPI(M) worker, Comrade Jain-al Mollah was sliced to death with a dozen cutting weapons by twenty-odd Trinamuli hoodlums when the former was caught alone in an otherwise empty field, returning after casting his vote. This was the only fatality related to election other than the ones reported earlier by us.


At least, despite Didi’s ‘cry-from-the-heart,’ none of the ardent Trinamul supporters would care to come out with ladles, spoons, and spatulas to vote. Some of them were caught, not carrying proper ID papers – but that, we suppose, is a forgivable sin of commission and omission in a person who supports or works, yet, for that much-disgraced political outfit.


There was a touch of comedy of incongruence when the Trinamul-turned-Congress-turned-Trinamul candidate in north Kolkata attempted to enter a couple of booths complete with his actress wife in lieu of his election agent, whom he had left outside, and was unceremoniously if promptly turned out by the polling officials.


Finally, thanks to the 100-odd EVMs being caught out in a sharp, unexpected shower last night, and becoming dysfunctional, 101 booths in the Mathurapur constituency shall see a re-poll tomorrow, i.e., May 14 with the usual hours of polling.


SECOND

PHASE POLLS


The Trinamul Congress and the Pradesh Congress tried their practised hands at disrupting the poll process during the second phase of polling in Bengal on May 7. There has since been a violent aftermath to the polls. Eight CPI(M) supporters have been killed, two in Howrah, one in Murshidabad, and three in Nandigram. Booth capturing was attempted at districts all over Bengal, most ending in failures but not in Nandigram. Here, 58 booths were captured and mal-polling practiced in. Nevertheless, the polling remained generally peaceful on the day.


Elsewhere at Falta in the Diamond harbour constituency, the local CPI(M) MLA and AIDWA leader Chandana Ghosh Dastidar was seriously injured when she was stacked by Trinamuli hooligans on May 10. She is recovering in a hospital.


In Nandigram, the Trinamul Congress captured 58 booths. The election officials have denied the request from the Left Front to have re-polling organised there. Biman Basu while congratulating the people asked the CPI(M) and LF workers not to go in for any sort of confrontation and to maintain peace.


Meanwhile addressing two crowded mass election rallies in south Kolkata, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said that even a couple of months earlier the Congress leadership had said that there was nothing called a third front. It is their partners who now claim that without the Left there is no chance of setting up a government. The UPA virtually had ceased to exist now. Congress should remember that 2009 is not 2004, and this time a non-Congress, non-BJP secular government will be set up and it shall be an alternate government.


In the last general elections, 54 of the 61 Left candidates won against Congress candidates. For the sake of secularism, the Left later supported from outside a Congress-led government. Congress has to decide its course of future itself. The speaker said that in this background the electorate of Bengal irrespective of political beliefs should vote for the Left in a big way for the sake of the nation itself.


Biman Basu, secretary of the CPI(M) said in a press conference on May 11 that there was a great chance that the Trinamul Congress would engineer – out of sheer frustration of going to lose the polls in a big way – a spate of wide violence in all the eleven constituencies and the 77 assembly segments they contained.


Biman Basu said that the CPI(M) has received reports that ‘made us alarmed with serious apprehension that the AITC will indulge in large-scale violence during the third phase of the election when 11 PCs are scheduled to go to the polls.’


The CPI(M) has reasons to believe that the AITC will bring out armed musclemen from the constituencies where voting has been completed in the earlier phases, add to their ranks large numbers of other dangerous hooligans armed with deadly weapons, and launch attacks with intention of booth capturing and intimidation of voters.’


TRINAMULI

MISDEEDS


We intend to bring to the readers’ urgent notice the contents of an ‘interesting’ if damning ‘sting’ filmed and run by a 24-hour Bengali channel from May 12, 2009 onwards.


The button-hole ‘sting’ camera records how the Trinamuli councillor of Ward 74 of KMC Mita Mitra, along with her husband Swadesh Mitra, illegally receives money in cash. They are taking the money from a contractor for allowing an illegal drilling of a deep tubewell in the area. It is further seen that the said AITC councillor and her husband admit clearly that the money received illegally will be ‘utilised for and during the election.’


They also demand several thousands of ‘food packets’ (the word biryani is heard several times on the audio) for ‘distribution and consumption on the election day.’ The Trinamuli councillor claims that she is ‘in charge of refreshments’ on the day and that she has been ‘appointed for the job at the behest of Mamata Banerjee,’ the Trinamuli supremo.


The entire sordid episode is a violation of the Model Code and is also an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Is this the way the Trinamul Congress supremo and her disciples want to build-up on their slogan adorning Mamata’s cut-outs all over the state (rumour has it, the number exceeds 1.30 lakh) that she is the ‘very symbol of honesty?’


We have also heard today (May 13, 2009) from the Trinamuli chief at a hurriedly-convened ‘media briefing,’ urging upon the ‘people’ to come out on to the streets with whatever they can lay their hands on for the ‘defence of democracy,’ presumably of the type she would prefer to have. She also criticised the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as a master of false voting.’


In the meanwhile, several Trinamuli hooligans were caught red-handed carting crate loads of bombs and bomb-making material in an ambulance at Bishnupur in south 24 Parganas where already one Trinamuli died while trying to be overzealous in quickly putting together a large, splinter-packed explosive device.


Elsewhere several armed goondas were caught at Salt Lake who under police interrogation admitted to being outsiders from south 24 Parganas villages and who revealed that they had been paid to come to the Barasat constituency to rig the polls with muscle-power in the remote polling stations in favour of ‘Didi’s party’. A similar occurrence took place at Paikpara in north Kolkata where five Trinamuli outsiders were taken into custody and having been caught carrying deadly sharp and cutting weapons on them.