EC rubbishes Mamata's claim of voting discrepancies in Nandigram

EC rubbishes Mamata's claim of voting discrepancies in Nandigram

Mamata Banerjee. (File photo: IANS)

Kolkata, April 4 (IANS) Days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged discrepancies during voting at the Boyal polling booth in Nandigram, the Election Commission on Sunday issued a point-by-point response refuting all the allegations. Calling Banerjee's hand-written complaint "factually incorrect" and "devoid of substance", it said it is contemplating action under the relevant sections of the Model Code of Conduct and the Representation of the People Act. The Chief Minister, in her complaint, had alleged that no genuine voters were allowed to enter the booth at Boyal Maktab Primary School and it was done in the presence of the Border Security Force (BSF). The Chief Minister sat on her wheel-chair outside the booth before she was escorted away by the BSF. Considering the gravity of the allegation, the EC sought a report from the Special Observers Ajay Nayak (General) and Vivek Dube (Police), who submitted their final report on Saturday evening. It cited the reports by special observers and officials "at various levels" to say that there was "no mention of either outsiders or guns and goons capturing the said booth". The EC also said that allegations made against BSF jawans deployed at the Boyal polling station in Nandigram are "far from the truth". A mock drill was conducted at 5.30 a.m. at the Boyal polling station in Nandigram and voting commenced at 7 a.m. on April 1. The EC also said that the polling agents of the BJP, CPI-M and an Independent were present inside the Boyal polling booth at the time of the mock drill, but the Trinamool Congress polling agent never showed up. "The ECI cannot force any one unwilling to work as a polling agent," the Commission said in its letter. "It is a matter of 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 the honourable CM. ... All this was done when the election process was/is on. There could not have been a greater misdemeanor," it said. Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that the Election Commission's reply is biased and a reflection of the allegations made by the the party time and again that the Commission is "acting in a partisan manner". "How can the Commission deny that though Section 144 was imposed, the BJP supporters assembled very close to the polling booth at Boyal and shouted slogans in support of their candidate. People of Bengal have witnessed what had happened on that particular day," he said. Making it clear that the allegations made by Banerjee were genuine, he maintained that the top brass of the party will communicate their standpoint about such a reply from the Commission in due course.

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