Election Commission of India (ECI) has sent a point-by-point response to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter citing concerns over alleged discrepancies during voting at the Boyal polling booth in Nandigram on 1 April.
Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief Mamata Banerjee went up against Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP from Nandigram in the second phase of the Bengal assembly polls.
Special observers Ajay Nayak (General) and Vivek Dube (Police) submitted a final report to the EC over Mamata Banerjee’s allegations on 3 April. The EC 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”.
In its response to Mamata Banerjee’s letter, the EC has said that allegations made against Border Security Force (BSF) jawans deployed at the Boyal polling station in Nandigram are “far from the truth”.
The two-term chief minister had alleged that central forces were inside the Boyal polling booth and even stopped people from casting their votes.
Rubbishing the allegations, the EC said, “There is no evidence at all to suggest that the BSF jawans who were deployed at the polling station, indulged in any inappropriate behaviour. Moreover, the complaint that they did not allow the voters to go inside the booth is dar from the truth.”
A mock drill was conducted at 5.30 AM at the Boyal polling station in Nandigram and voting commenced at 7 AM on 1 April, the EC said in its response. The Commission 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.
The Commission said that the AITC polling agent never showed up at the Boyal booth. “The ECI cannot force any one unwilling to work as a polling agent,” the Commission said in its letter.
The EC said the sector officer, IPS Nagendra Tripathi, General Observer IAS Hemen Das and Police Observer IPS Ashutosh Roy visited the polling booth inside Boyal Maktab Primary School and assured the Commission that voting was going on peacefully.
Relevant CCTV footage is available with the Commission to prove that there was no wrongdoing in the process, said the EC.
There was no report of any violence, nor was there any intimidation of voters at the Boyal polling booth, said the EC.
The Commission went on to say, “It is self-evident from the perusal of all the reports that the allegations mentioned in your hand-written note are factually incorrect, without any empirical evidence whatsoever and devoid of substance.”