Battleground Bengal: Despite All The Goons And Gore, BJP Managed To Hold Steady In Fourth Phase Of Polls

Battleground Bengal: Despite All The Goons And Gore, BJP Managed To Hold Steady In Fourth Phase Of PollsBJP chief Amit Shah and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
Snapshot
  • BJP candidates, especially women, and their polling agents, were attacked at many places and their vehicles damaged by alleged Trinamool goons as they went around trying to instill confidence among their supporters to vote.

    BJP candidates also foiled many attempts by Trinamool polling agents to prevent saffron supporters from exercising their franchise.

The fourth round of polling in 44 seats spread over five districts of Bengal saw a lot of bloodshed, including the deaths of five people in two separate incidents, and the usual hooliganism and intimidation associated with elections in the state.

However, despite all that, the BJP managed to hold its own and put up a tough fight in almost all constituencies.

Alleged attempts by the Trinamool to rig the polls through violence, threats, intimidation and unfair means was resisted and foiled by BJP at most places.

BJP candidates, especially women, and their polling agents, were attacked at many places and their vehicles damaged by alleged Trinamool goons as they went around trying to instill confidence among their supporters to cast their votes.

BJP candidates also foiled many attempts by Trinamool polling agents to prevent saffron supporters from exercising their franchise.

As a result, the Trinamool poll machinery’s repeated attempts to rig the polls through various means like preventing BJP supporters from casting their votes, jamming polling booths (so that genuine voters go away after a long wait without casting their votes), driving BJP’s polling agents out of booths and attacking BJP candidates were defeated.

The BJP’s internal assessment is that most of the party supporters could cast their votes and rigging was limited to just about five per cent of the 15,940-odd polling stations.

BJP’s Chuchura candidate and Hooghly Lok Sabha MP Locket Chatterjee drove to a polling booth in a Muslim dominated area to ensure that a few party supporters who were being prevented from voting could cast their votes.

“I received information that some of our party supporters were being threatened at one place. I went there and, with the help of central forces, ensured that those people voted. A huge crowd led by Trinamool goons came charging towards me and hurled bricks at my vehicle. My window got smashed. But I foiled the attempts to rig the polls there,” said Chatterjee.

BJP candidate in South 24 Parganas’ Kasba seat also went around ensuring that Trinamool goons did not succeed in their attempts to intimidate voters.

“Bombs were hurled to scare away voters and the Trinamool tried to resort to unfair means. But I was constantly on the move and managed to foil most of those attempts,” Khan, an oncologist, told Swarajya.

Actors Payel Sarkar and Srabanti Chatterjee, the BJP candidates for Behala Purba and Behala Paschim seats respectively, also put up a fierce resistance to Trinamool’s attempts to rig the polls.

Both went around their constituencies throughout the day and responded to numerous calls for help.

“My election agent was evicted from one booth and as soon as I got the information, I rushed there and ensured he was back inside the booth. I filed many complaints with the Election Commission,” she said.

Srabanti Chatterjee, who is pitted against Trinamool heavyweight and minister Partha Chatterjee, went to booths where BJP supporters were not being allowed to vote. She had arguments with Trinamool agents and ultimately prevailed in getting her supporters to vote.

Another BJP candidate — Baishali Dalmiya from Bally in Howrah district —remained unfazed by attempts of Trinamool goons and supporters to intimidate her.

“Trinamool goons tried all sorts of tricks to intimidate me and my party supporters. But they were unsuccessful,” said Dalmiya, the daughter of former BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya.

Due to the vigil mounted by BJP candidates, the Trinamool could not indulge in unfair practices, said senior BJP leaders.

“Our workers were on the ground and remained vigilant throughout the day. By and large, our supporters could go out and vote. We thwarted most attempts by the Trinamool to rig the polls,” said state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh.

The Trinamool, on the other hand, repeated its complaint about central forces intimidating voters and asking people to vote for the BJP.

“The central forces played a highly partisan role in the fourth phase of polling as well. CAPF personnel went around asking people to vote for the BJP and threatened our supporters. Our election agents were threatened by the BJP and driven out of the booths at many places,” said a Trinamool spokesperson.

But it was clear that on the ground, there wasn’t much support for Trinamool. Many makeshift booths that the party set up outside polling stations ostensibly to ‘help’ voters were largely empty.

Except for some pockets in a few of the 44 constituencies that went to the polls on Saturday (April 10), the Trinamool’s intimidation and threats did not work.

“As Home Minister Amit Shah said, there is a groundswell of support for the BJP and so the Trinamool’s attempts to rig the polls do not matter. Those attempts won’t make any difference,” said Dilip Ghosh.

The BJP’s own assessment, based on feedback from the ground after the end of polling, is that it will bag at least 30 of the 44 seats.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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