On polling day in Nandigram, we showed on India TV, how villagers, both men and women, fearing for their lives, were walking towards the polling booth near their village, with central security forces accompanying them. These men and women named some local Trinamool leaders, who had threatened them not to come out of their homes and vote. This was how a reign of terror had been created in Nandigram, where the Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee is fighting a raging battle to save her political existence.
Till now, we had been only hearing news of Trinamool leaders threatening people not to attend BJP rallies in Bengal, we used to hear how villagers never trusted the local police, but after a long time, people have mustered courage to come out and vote, with central security forces protecting them. Till now, we used to take all accusations made by BJP leaders against TMC about beatings and killings, with a pinch of salt, but after watching the video of poor, innocent villagers narrating how hooligans came to their homes and threatened them not to vote, one has to believe that there indeed is a reign of terror in TMC strongholds.
These villagers told India TV reporter Amit Palit, how TMC leaders came to their homes and threatened them for attending Mithun Chakraborty’s road show. A central security force team went to their village, and brought the villagers to the polling booths so that they could freely cast their votes.
In another visual on Thursday, we showed how a convoy of vehicles led by BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari was stoned in a Muslim-dominated locality. India TV crew vehicle was in the convoy, and it bore the brunt of stoning. The car windshield was smashed, and India TV reporter Pawan Nara was injured. When Suvendu Adhikari came to know about this, he stopped his convoy, came to India TV crew vehicle, and said, “the world must see the jungle raj created by the Begum. There is already a non-bailable warrant pending against local Muslim TMC strongman Sheikh Sufian, they brought outsiders to rig voting at Madrasa booth, there are six phases of poll remaining, and the world should see what is happening here.”
Why was Suvendu Adhikari making allegations against Muslim supporters of TMC in Block-1 of Nandigram? India TV reporter Manish Bhattacharya was present in the area where the stoning took place. Local Muslim TMC supporters told him, on camera,”Suvendu Dada will lose this time, neither Owaisi nor Pirzada will work here, One hundred per cent Muslim votes will go to Didi”.
Mamata Banerjee knows this quite well that Muslim voters in Bengal will support her this time en bloc, because they fear BJP may come to power. She therefore visited Hindu dominated areas of Nandigram, and staged a drama outside a booth, where she sat for more than two hours, rang up the state governor Jagdeep Dhankad, wrote a two-page letter to the EC in her own handwriting, alleging that central security forces were allowing rigging to take place. This was done in full view of national and international media, to garner attention.
Mamata Banerjee says that she had got complaints about Muslim voters not being allowed to vote in Boyal, a Hindu dominated area. India TV reporter Manish Bhattacharya was present, when Mamata reached the booth. Suddenly, a large number of TMC supporters came shouting slogans and started a fracas with BJP workers. There were clashes and fisticuffs, in the presence of Trinamool supremo. Fortunately, a large contingent of central security forces came to the spot and prevented the situation from deteriorating.
It was indeed a dramatic scene when Mamata Banerjee rang up the state governor from a polling booth, complaining against the Election Commission. This was the same governor, whom she had been labelling as ‘BJP agent’ for the last several years.
As news of Mamata waiting outside a booth travelled fast, Election Commission observers reached the scene, and sent this report to the EC control room in Delhi.
This is what the EC reported to the media: “Many sections of media have been covering the incident of alleged gherao of Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal and crowding at Polling Station No. 7 at 210 Nandigram AC today that inter alia resulted in disruption of poll process. General Observer Shri Hemen Das (IAS 2009 batch) and Police Observer Shri Ashutosh Roy (IPS 1994 batch) were asked to go to the spot immediately. The report received from the General Observer at 4.06 pm is as follows: “Good afternoon sir, Polling at PS no 7 ( Boyal Moktab Primary School) is going on smoothly.
Hon’ble CM, who is also a contesting candidate, has left the place at about 3.35 pm after staying here for nearly one and half hour.
“It may kindly be noted that polling was not disrupted at any moment. Till now, 702 votes, out of 943, have been polled. It’s 74%. Nearly 3000 people were there when we reached the station. All have left now. Now, me and Police Observer are here besides the authorised police personnel including CAPF. Regards"
“A separate hand written complaint was received from Hon’ble Chief Minister via CEO West Bengal today in the late afternoon. The same has been forwarded to Special General Observer Shri Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Shri Vivek Dube under intimation to CEO. They have been asked to send a report by tomorrow 6pm.”
So, much ado about nothing by Mamata. She was creating a drama, even as her party goons were threatening people in villages not to come out and vote.
Mamata’s rival Suvendu Adhikari said, this was clear indication of Mamata losing in Nandigram. He claimed that the majority of voters in Nandigram have voted in his favour. Adhikari questioned how Mamata violated Code of Conduct but sitting outside a polling booth for two hours.
At the same time, in Uluberia and Joynagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing election rallies, said, “the people of Bengal have decided to teach Mamata a lesson this time. He said, nobody can now save Didi from people’s anger. She should read the writing on the wall. Already the indications were there after the first phase of polling. And now, whatever has happened in Nandigram, are indicative that Mamata is losing.”
Modi posed a direct question to Mamata: “Didi, the last phase of nominations still remains. Tell me, are the rumours true that you may file another nomination from a different constituency? You went to Nandigram, the people showed you what they wanted. If you go anywhere else, people are ready (to teach you a lesson).”
Late in the evening, Trinamool Congress spokesman formally denied that the party chief was going to file nomination from another constituency. The spokesman said, “if BJP leaders are so much in love with Bengal, why doesn’t the PM or the Home Minister file a nomination here?” Another Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra tweeted: “Contesting from second seat? Yes, Mr PM. She will, and it will be Varanasi. So go, get your armour on.”
It goes to the credit of India TV reporters, who, on Thursday, showed courage and spoke to villagers who went to booths under central forces’ protection to cast their votes. Our reporters faced stoning from TMC supporters, and one of them was injured. Our third reporter showed how TMC and BJP supporters clashed in the presence of the chief minister.
The Election Commission knew that there would be attempts to capture polling booths, and it, therefore, opted for an eight-phase polling and heavy deployment of Central forces. At that time, the first to object to the eight-phase polling was Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Voters speaking on camera clearly described the reign of terror that had been unleashed.
Secondly, all these threats by goons did not work, and the common voters showed courage on the day of polling. This was evident from the glum visage of Mamata Banerjee on Thursday, sitting on her wheel chair outside a polling booth. Never had Mamata appeared so glum. This was not her usual style.
She blamed Home Minister Amit Shah and said the central forces acted in a biased manner. She raised doubts about the neutrality of the Election Commission.
The question is still open: Will Mamata win or lose in Nandigram?
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