KOLKATA: Demonetisation loomed large over the byelections held in two Lok Sabha and one Vidhan Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, with just over a third of the electorate casting their votes on Saturday. The state is known for well over 80% voting percentages in any election.
Longer queues were seen in front of ATMs than at the polling stations in Tamluk and Coochbehar Lok Sabha and Manteswar Vidhan Sabha constituencies.
“I have come with both ATM card and voter card. First, I would withdraw cash, then go to cast vote. Anyways, there is not much line in the booths,” said Amit Maity at a booth in Mecheda under Tamluk Lok
However, scattered violence was witnessed in all the three constituencies. While the BJP alleged that TMC workers forcibly removed several of their polling agents from booths in Coochbehar, CPM said
their cadres were beaten up by TMC workers in Tamluk constituency. The BJP has demanded for re-election in several booths in Tamluk and Coochbehar constituencies. On the other hand, Congress withdrew its candidate from Manteswar seat against alleged rigging by Trinamool Congress workers.
Meanwhile, in all the three constituencies, BJP has emerged as a new force to reckon with, ahead of Congress and CPM. In Coochbehar constituency, the fight was between the central and state ruling
parties BJP and TMC respectively, with others reduced to being fence-sitters. In Manteswar constituency, the fight was more between the two traditional archrivals TMC and CPM. The left party had managed to retain the seat even in the storm of 2011 since 1977, only losing it in this year’s April election.
In the southern Bengal constituency of Tamluk, the fight was more of an ego fight of transport minister and Trinamool’s tallest leader in the two Medinipur districts, Suvendu Adhikari, who
fielded his brother Dibyendu Adhikari in his former seat, while moving from the Parliament to take over responsibilities in the Mamata-2 cabinet.
While byelection was necessitated in Coochbehar and Manteswar due to death of winning candidates of Vidhan Sabha elections in April, Suvendu Adhikari’s shift from Centre to state politics necessitated bypolls in Tamluk.