In a major development during the ongoing Phase 5 of the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission of India removed presiding officer of a polling booth at Tarakeswar under Arambagh Lok Sabha constituency after Trinamool leader Maharaja Nag was caught on camera guiding voters on where to vote. This is the first time that the poll panel has taken such a stringent decision in the ongoing General Elections. News Nation was the first channel to air the clip that showed Nag ‘guiding’ the elderly voter. It was this very clip that prompted the BJP to raise the complaint to the poll panel. Acting on this ‘evidence’, the poll panel sacked the presiding officer for dereliction of duty.
This is by far the most volatile phase in the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal. In booth no 58 of Belur in Howrah constituency, former councillor Poltu Banik was seen allegedly threatening BJP voters which led to unrest. The polling booth is at Belur Boys School. The police, RAF and Central security forces reached the spot after the incident broke out to take stock of the situation.
In Hooghly the seat, Dr Ratna De Nag of the TMC will contest against BJP's celebrity candidate Locket Chatterjee. The CPI(M) has nominated Pradip Saha and the Congress has fielded Pratul Chandra Saha for the seat. In the Arambagh (SC) seat, TMC's Aparupa Poddar will contest against Tapan Kumar Ray of the BJP. The CPI(M) has fielded Sakti Mohan Malik and the Congress has nominated Jyoti Kumari Das.
Meanwhile, accusing the ruling Trinamool of unleashing "violence" on its voters, the BJP has demanded a repoll in Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. Union minister Prakash Javadekar accused Trinamool Congress "goons" of booth-capturing and not letting BJP voters cast their votes by resorting to threats and violence. At a press conference, he also alleged that the Election Commission had not done enough to make the polls free and fair in the state despite the BJP approaching it a number of times.
"The TMC wants to win elections by rigging as it cannot win by votes. We demand a repoll in the entire Barrackpore constituency," he said, alleging that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was behind the violence.
Barrackpore has become a prestige battle for Banerjee as Arjun Singh, a local strongman and MLA, was in the TMC before he switched over to the BJP ahead of the general election. He is up against the incumbent MP and TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi.