KOLKATA: All major Opposition parties in West Bengal suspect foul play by the ruling Trinamool Congress during counting of ballots for the 42 Lok Sabha seats on Friday, and have written to the Election Commission to adopt strong measures.
The Congress, Left Front, and BJP, on Thursday alleged that the poll panel failed to ensure free and fair polls in the state, as they were rigged by the TMC, and expressed apprehension about manipulation during counting and intimidation of their counting agents.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former state president Pradip Bhattacharya said, “I have written to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, pointing out that our apprehension is not imaginary, but instead, based on the fact that the Trinamool Congress manipulated the results during the panchayat and municipal polls last year.”
“The TMC will resort to the same fraudulent tactics, by manipulating the figures from EVMs in constituencies where they will lose. We have information about their planned conspiracy to threaten counting agents of the Opposition parties, and force returning officers to declare their defeated candidates as victorious,” he alleged.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has gone a step ahead, and cautioned the poll commission, alleging that at the time of tabulation of results from each Electronic Voting Machine, a section of state government employees, along with the police, would manipulate the figures, and put pressure on the returning officers to declare the defeated TMC nominees as elected, and issue them certificates.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former Lok Sabha MP Shamik Lahiri, alleged, “The TMC has several dummy candidates in all constituencies, and they too will enter with their agents.
The aim is to create chaos, and tamper with the tabulation sheets. Once a defeated candidate is declared elected by coercing the returning officer, a court case will go on for more than five years, and by that time the Lok sabha will end.”
Left Front chairman Biman Bose demanded, “Security at all counting centres should be very strong, and no unauthorized person should be allowed entry.
“All our counting agents will remain inside the centres at any cost, despite threats from the TMC men, and a section of state police.”
“There should be video recordings, CCTV, and presence of central security forces at all the counting centres. The counting centres should be impenetrable for anyone other than the candidates, and their counting agents, as we apprehend trouble from the ruling TMC,” he alleged.
BJP state general secretary Ashim Sarkar urged the poll panel to ensure installation of generators to ensure there were no power cuts. “We also want cameras and presence of security forces. Special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, whose role was probed during the elections, should in no way be connected with counting of ballots,” he demanded.
All political parties held meetings at their headquarters to work out strategies to combat any kind of malpractice by the ruling Trinamool Congress.
A state EC official said there would be 98 counting observers at the 48 heavily monitored counting centres. The entire process would be videographed.
Prohibitory orders will be promulgated near the counting centres and there will be three layers of security cordon outside all the centres.