New Delhi/Kolkata: The Election Commission has rubbished allegations levelled by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee regarding entry of outsiders and booth capturing at a polling station at Boyal in Nandigram on April1 as “factually incorrect, without any empirical evidence whatsoever and devoid of substance”. In Nandigaram Mamata faces her one time protege-turned rival Suvendu Adhikari.
The commission said it was being examined if the events of that day merited action under Sections 131 and 123(2) of the Representation of the People’s Act (RP Act) and the model code of conduct. The first section deals with disorderly conduct in or near polling stations and the next is about disturbance in the conduct of elections.
The EC’s rejoinder to Banerjee’s hand-written note was despatched on Saturday. The poll panel earlier received a detailed report from special observers on the incident, and found the allegations to be unsubstantiated.
The Election Commission said it noted with “ deep regret” that a “media narrative was sought to be weaved "hour after hour to misguide the biggest stakeholders, which is the voters, by a candidate who also happens to be CM of the state”. The commission said the events at Boyal could have an adverse impact on law and order. "And all this was being done when the election process was on. There could not have been a greater misdemeanour,” it added.
The EC gave a timeline of smooth polling at Boyal despite complaints received from the TMC polling agent and later the CM. It also set out steps taken by poll authorities to verify and address the complaints. It said there was no mention in reports of officials at various levels “of either outsiders or guns and goons capturing the said booth”.
On the allegation that the Trinamool election agent was denied entry to the polling booth, the EC said the report of the district officers mentioned the great lengths to which the local administration went to ensure his presence but that he refused to come despite being assured of police escort. “The EC cannot force anyone unwilling to work as a polling agent,” the commission said.
Over 80% voting in Bengal, 73% in Assam
Over 80 per cent voter turnout have been reported from 30 assembly seats in West Bengal in the second phase of voting on April 1. In Assam, over 73 per cent voting has been registered in 39 assembly constituencies. The Election Commission said the polling in the two states were conducted peacefully.
Elaborate arrangements were made for Covid safe, intimidation free and inducement free elections. The Commission expressed gratitude to all stakeholders specially the voters for their enthusiastic and fearless participation in the election process.