By Debasish Chakraborty
THE mystery of TMC’s so-called landside win in panchayat elections in West Bengal is being revealed as details of the votes are trickling through the official results of the state election commission. Apart from blatant terrorisation during the election process, nearly 4500 booths were captured during the five phase elections. Even after that, armed attacks and massive rigging took place in the counting process also. Despite these, however, Left Front candidates have won in 15,593 seats in the three tiers.
The result sheets reveal how intensive the rigging was. Few examples can be put up:
In Purshura in Hooghly district, there was widespread terror. In booth No. 80 of No. 36 zilla parishad seat, CPI(M) candidate has got zero vote while her TMC rival has got 604 votes. In the same seat, LF candidate has got 1, 4, 6, 8 votes in four booths in four schools while the TMC candidate has got 498, 555, 369, 577 votes respectively. In zilla parishad seat numbers 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, LF has got one digit vote in more than 40 booths and less than 30 votes in 60 booths. In Khanakul sub division of Hooghly, the people had no chance of voting as there were no candidates of opposition. None were allowed to file their nomination.
In Saratchandra in Bagnana, Howrah, TMC captured booths in large numbers and CPI(M) polling agents were chased away. In one after another booth, CPI(M) candidates finally got single digit to 30 votes while TMC got 300 to 700 votes. In these booths CPI(M) won comfortably in last assembly elections.
In Ketugram of Burdwan, in a zilla parishad seat, CPI(M) got 1, 2 and 3 votes in three booths in Muragram while TMC got 554, 707 and 356 votes respectively. Same happened in another zilla parishad seat in Ketugram where CPI(M) candidate polled 7, 8, 9 votes while TMC got 350 to 650 votes. Interestingly in all these booths, CPI(M) won in the last assembly elections.
How TMC ‘won’ can also be gauged from an example in Minakha in North 24 Parganas. In Dhuturdaha of the block there were 13 seats out of which TMC ‘won’ uncontested in 6. Left Front was not allowed to contest. But in the rest 7, voting took place and TMC was defeated in all of them. It was clear that if there were contests in those 6, TMC had to face severe defeat.
In North 24 Parganas, apart from mindless terror during the voting, at least 10 zilla parishad seats were snatched by the ruling party during the counting process. Details of the counting are now available. In all these seats, Left Front candidates either won or were leading with unassailable margins. TMC armed gangs entered into counting halls, chased away Left parties’ counting agents, beat up candidates and forced the counting officers to declare TMC candidates as winners. In some cases, the administration directly helped TMC goons and police remained silent or took part in the rigging. These 10 seats simply meant that this zilla parishad would have been won by Left Front. CPI(M) has already decided to go to court on this issue.
In Burdwan, TMC particularly targeted 9 blocks: Raina 1, Raina 2, Memari 1, Memari 2, Jsamalpur, Aushgram 1, Ketugram 1 and two blocks of Burdwan sadar. In these nine blocks, Left Front either won or was marginally defeated in the last assembly elections. Even after terror, the Left Front took lead in most of the 36 zilla parishad seats from these 9 blocks. Then came the massive attack in counting centres. Left Front agents were chased away, ballots were torn, and forcibly results were declared. It was complete mayhem.
In Bagnan in Howrah district, CPI(M) candidates even received the winners’ certificate when stormtroopers invaded the counting centres. All result sheets were destroyed and TMC candidate was declared ‘winner’. In one such incident TMC candidate herself protested against such vandalism by her party men but was threatened with dire consequences. In many seats here, the counting process was vitiated midway and TMC candidates were simply declared winners in the face of guns.
Innumerable examples of such frauds and forced perversions of peoples’ verdict have proved that the panchayat elections turned farcical to a great extent.
This however is not to suggest that TMC won the elections only through rigging and violence. What the facts reveal is that they could not have won in this scale if elections were free and fair.
People's Democracy, August 11, 2013