Kolkata: Local body polls in the city saw wide scale vote manipulation, with the West Bengal election commission and police standing mute to voter intimidation and false voting taking place.
Elections to 144 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation took place on Sunday, where 40,48,352 voters were to exercise their mandate in 4,742 booths and 385 auxiliary booths.
From the morning itself, voter intimidation started in various wards. Particularly affected were wards 100-114, where by 11 AM, agents of the Left Front were driven out. Candidate for ward 66 and CPI(M) Leader Faiyaz Ahmad Khan was brutally beaten up by armed TMC activists. Khan is a former Mayor in the council of the KMC and has been a popular leader in this constituency.
It has been alleged by opposition leaders that most of the votes polled during the first few hours were put by false voters belonging to the ruling TMC camp.
"The way this poll has taken place has stained democracy in the state, and the election commission has proved to be insufficient and incapable to hold even a municipal body election,” said a dejected CPI(M) central committee member Rabin Deb. Still, he congratulated the voters who in spite of occurrences like agentless voting, blocking of CCTV cameras, and TMC polling agents standing in voting cubicles were able to exercise their franchise.
Another Left Front candidate Madhab Basu of ward 8 too met the same fate in North Kolkata. Motorcycle gangs allegedly roamed about freely on the roads and laid siege to various booths in many wards in the area.
In ward 110, armed hooligans wreaked havoc in all 16 ward areas, with agents of all opposition parties being driven out. In most of these wards, the Left Front held sway even in the last corporation elections. In ward 101, all the agents of opposition parties were thrown out of the electoral process by 9 AM.
Left Front Chairman Biman Basu today has informed that the way farcical elections took place and the way the democratic right of the people were snatched away, the coalition has decided to hold statewide protests on Monday and Tuesday. A demonstration is also planned at the State election commission on Monday afternoon, Bose said.
So far, protests have been organised in almost 100 places across the city against the alleged poll rigging.
Later on Sunday evening, Rabin Deb along with CPI(M) state secretariat members Kallol Majumdar and Shamik Lahiri, Left Front convenor of South 24 Parganas and Kolkata district addressed the press where they detailed the fact that false voters had come in buses into the city from the districts at the behest of election commission.
Shamik Lahiri detailed his meeting with the district magistrate of South 24 Parganas district, who is chief municipal election officer in the district, sharing how the officer had threatened to withdraw the candidates of affected wards from the electoral fray.
CPI(M) has demanded a re-poll in 16 wards so far and has lamented how false voting done by TMC reached an abnormal level. It has been claimed by the party that more than 25 Left Front activists were injured in Sunday's elections.