On Video, Mass False Voting In Violence-Hit Bengal Panchayat Polls
The video shows a man inside a polling station, stamping a bunch of ballot papers. Near him stands another man, presumably an official, going by a card hung on a lanyard around his neck. Outside the poll area, separated by a wire mesh, voters watch helplessly.
Under the eyes of the officials, the man continues stamping, raising his head suddenly as he realises he is being shot on camera. “Take away the cameras, don’t you dare show me on TV,” he screams, before hurrying on with his task.
Ballot papers were used instead of EVMs by the Election Commission, which came under a barrage of criticism last year by opposition parties, which alleged the Electronic Voting Machines had been tampered with.
In Bengal, opposition CPM and the BJP alleged that the Trinamool Congress had stopped their candidates from filing nominations in huge swathes of the state.
The Trinamool Congress denied the allegations. But when the matter reached the Supreme Court, the judges expressed concern over Trinamool candidates’ being elected unopposed in 34 per cent seats across the state.
On election day, 11 people were killed and around 50 injured in poll-related violence that involved sticks, knives and even home-made bombs. In one place a married couple who supported CPM were burnt alive. In another 20 people were injured as a bomb was hurled inside a polling booth. In many places, voters said goons of the ruling party did not allow them inside the polling booths.
The Trinamool Congress claimed that the violence was sporadic and far less than what took place during 35 years of Left rule.
Senior party leader Derek O’Brien tweeted: “To all ‘newborn’ experts on Bengal #PanchayatElections in State have a history. 400 killed in poll violence in 1990s in CPIM rule. 2003: 40 dead.Every death is a tragedy. Now closer to normal than earlier times.Yes, few dozen incidents. Say,40 out of 58000 booths. What’s %age?”
According to results available till 2 pm today, the ruling Trinamool Congress registering victory in more than 9,200 gram panchayat seats, Election Commission officials were quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.