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Monday, September 26, 2022

West Bengal: TMC leader Ekramul Haque gives call for booth capture

In a brazen call for election rigging, TMC leader Ekramul Haque has instructed his party workers to not let opposition polling agents inside 20 specific booths in Chopra constituency in Uttar Dinajpur constituency, so as to ‘ensure lead of at least 20,000’.

A polling agent is a candidate’s representative who safeguards his/her interests at every polling station by working with the Presiding Officer to ensure that EVMs and VVPATs are in order, detecting and preventing impersonation of voters, and helping to secure and seal the EVMs, VVPATs and election records after polling is over.

In the video, Haque says, “this vote is for our survival. I would urge everyone with folded hands that please cast your vote the way you voted last time during Panchayat election no matter how many military forces or central forces come. At Narayanpur booth, we are the central force. If we do not allow any polling agents inside the booth then the voting process will be done exactly the way we want.”

“Opponents will not be allowed in these booths. Mukul Roy (BJP leader) reported that they have four booths. Opposition will not be allowed in these four booths. This is applicable also in Akhtar bhai’s booth. There will be no opponents in booths. We have already calculated it. We will not let the opposition stay in the other booths in the area. We have to take the lead with twenty thousand votes in twenty booths anyway,” Haque further instructs his workers.

Observers have called out that these are familiar tactics in a state where political violence and various forms of election rigging has become so normalized in certain constituencies, so as to make a mockery of the democratic process.

While the multi-phase assembly polls, allowing for large contingent of central and other security forces to be deployed during each phase, has been designed to provide better security to citizens and ECI (Election Commission of India) workers and prevent the sort of bloody violence seen in past WB elections, ECI needs to take more pro-active and visible actions to nip goons like Haque in the bud.

After all, no one wants a repeat of the bloody and farcical 2018 Panchayat elections in WB. Those polls were marked by murder of at least 27 opposition workers and candidates, rape, widespread rigging, violence and intimidation of voters. In an unprecedented mockery of the electoral process, Trinamool won 34% of nearly 58,000 seats ‘uncontested’ as there was no rival candidate!

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