Nandigram, Singur could be Left's undoing, say experts
The spillover effects from Singur and Nandigram could hit West
Bengal's ruling Left Front, which faces its toughest challenge in
the assembly elections whose outcome could have a national impact,
say political observers.
According to analyst Mahesh Rangarajan, Left parties laid a strong
Kolkata: Defying a
Maoist boycott and braving the scorching sun, over 83 percent of
the 26 lakh-plus electorate voted amid massive security deployment
in the sixth and final phase of the West Bengal assembly elections
Tuesday. Voting was peaceful.
Voters, many of them tribals living in the jungle areas, lined up
in long queues in front of booths from 7 a.m when the polling
started and by 3 p.m., the scheduled time for the polls to get
over, 83.48 percent of votes were cast, according to officials.
On Tuesday, polling was held in 14 constituencies of three
districts - West Midnapore (7), Purulia (4) and Bankura (3) -
considered the hotbed of Maoist activities.
Tuesday's polling brought to an end the staggered six-phase
election for the 294-member assembly that began April 18 and
covered around 70,000 polling booths spread across 19 districts
over 88,752 sq km. The total electorate was over 56 million.
Three helicopters provided aerial surveillance and over 100,000
security personnel, comprising central paramilitary troopers,
crack units of the state police and commandos were deployed in the
"Till 3 p.m., polling percentage was 83.48 percent. Polling in
West Midnapore was 85.31 percent, Purulia 76.80 percent and
Bankura 84.50 percent," state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta
told media persons.
Polling ended at 3 p.m., two hours earlier than the previous
rounds, to enable officials to leave the area before daylight
"The voting was peaceful. A blast was heard near a forest in
Gopiballavpur, but it turned out to be part of the training of air
force personnel in Kalaikunda air base in the district," said
additional chief electoral officer N.K. Sahana.
A total of 13 people were arrested in West Midnapore for creating
nuisance in polling booth premises, said Additional Superintendent
of Police (headquarters) Sukesh Jain.
In Jhargram, five preventive arrests were made, said Additional
Police Superintendent (Operation) Mukesh Kumar.
Polling in the area had posed the biggest challenge for the
security forces and the election authorities. Places like Salboni,
Jhargram, Nayagram, Binpur, Joypur and Bandwan have witnessed
shootings and killings related to rebel violence during the past
Troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force's anti-Maoist wing
and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) had deployed in
the jungles armed with modern gadgets, including anti-explosive
High-frequency satellite phones were being used at several polling
booths as part of the massive security arrangements.
The area resembled a battlefield with Kalashnikov-wielding
security forces positioned in large number of bunkers and on the
roofs of polling booths.
Anti-landmine vehicles were also on the roads.
"We had identified 1,049 hamlets as vulnerable to threats of which
470 were in West Midnapore, 563 in Bankura and 16 in Purulia. Both
civil officials and security personnel kept a close watch on the
residents of these hamlets," said Gupta.
Among the 97 candidates in the fray for the sixth phase were
Minister for Western Region Development Sushanta Ghosh (from
Garbeta in West Midnapore), Law and Justice Minister Rabilal
Moitra (Gopiballavpur, West Midnapore) and Minister of State for
Backward Class Welfare Debolina Hembram (Ranibandh, Bankura).
Chhatradhar Mahato, jailed convener of pro-Maoist tribal outfit
People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), contested
from Jhargram constituency in West Midnapore district as an
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had,
however, given a call for vote boycott across the state.
Of the 14 constituencies where polling was held Tuesday, the
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) contested in 11 while its
Left Front allies - the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the
Forward Bloc contested in one and two constituencies,
respectively. The Trinamool Congress contested in nine and its
alliance partner, the Congress in four. The Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) had fielded candidates on all the 14 seats.
The counting of votes will take place May 13.