Mamata's 'Nandigram debacle' and missing booth agents

    03-Apr-2021   
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New Delhi/Kolkata: Perhaps Mamata Banerjee's assertion came too late. "For Nandigram and the other seats that voted today (April 1), and the 30 seats that did so earlier, for all the seats, I am showing you V for victory,” she told reporters though throughout the day she betrayed nervousness.
 
Absence of polling agents gives advantage to rivals. Booth management is thus vital in the elections. But it is being alleged and reported widely that as many as 27 polling agents of Mamata's party did the 'vanishing act' on April 1 at Nandigram where Trinamool Congress supremo herself was locked in perhaps the worst election of her life.
 
All her rivals have been claiming 'victory' meaning her defeat, and the win for Suvendu Adhikari. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 1 (polling day itself) said whatever went on in Nandigram suggested that Mamata has lost her poll.
 
On Friday, Home Minister Amit Shah made similar claims and punctuated his speech with Sarcastic remarks. "I will share with you all a secret, that Mamata Banerjee has lost the poll in Nandigram''. "Kal jo nazara sabh ne dekha, woh nazara batati hae ki Didi Nandigram mein haar chuki hae, magar kisi ko batana mat". At Kalchini election rally in north Bengal, Shah also claimed "Out of 60 seats polling in Bengal in first two phases, Lotus symbol is going to shine in more than 50 seats".
 
Locally, Trinamool leaders and Mamata Banerjee herself had alleged that polling agents could not turn up because of BJP threats.
 
However, is is also suggested that in most places, Didi's foot soldiers had deserted her and they did the missing act in clear understanding with the BJP camp.
 
In fact, it was also reported in the media that one agent Mrinal Barik in Boyal village could not be tracked even at his home when a police team along with local Trinamool leaders visited the place.
 
Nagendranath Tripathi, the newly appointed IPS officer in charge of Nandigram police station, also had assured local Trinamool leaders that security would be provided once polling agents came to do their assigned jobs.
 
Reports suggested even otherwise in the run up to the polls in last few months, a number of local Trinamool leaders and even Trinamool Gram Pradhan of Boyal gram panchayat had jumped the ship and decided to back BJP nominee Suvendu Adhikari.
 
The body language of Suvendu on the polling day was of extreme confidence and he even smiled to journalists' questions and at one point told them that Trinamool camp is unnerved by the 'Jai Shri Ram factor'.
 
Sheikh Sufiyan, a local Trinamool leader said his party workers were "scared”. Reports said there was so much tension and charge and counter charge at Nandigram during the polling day that even the BJP could not depute agents in about 25 booths.
 
The CPI-M, which had fielded student leader Meenakshi Mukherjee, also failed to sent its polling agents in over 50 booths.
 
However, locals say CPI-M failure was due to absence of its cadres and 'organisational weakness'.
 
The BJP's poor show was expected in Muslim-dominated localities.