West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that BJP leaders were distributing large sums of money running into crores of rupees to influence electoral outcomes besides bringing in “hired goons” and asked for action by the Election Commission.
Her party, the Trinamool Congress, also wrote to the state Chief Electoral Officer alleging Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP who is locked in a battle with Banerjee for the prestigious Nandigram constituency, is harbouring criminals at different locations.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee claimed in the letter sent on Wednesday that Adhikari has kept them at seven locations in Nandigram.
“We have repeatedly informed the Election Commission about (the) grave situation vide our letters dated March 22, March 26 and March 29, but to no avail,” Chatterjee wrote to Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab.
The TMC alleged the BJP candidate is “harbouring criminals” at Reyapara, Boyal, Haripur, Barachak, Rankinipur Birulia, Chargoliya and Chaitanya Bazar areas in Nandigram.
At a rally in Singur, the TMC supremo accused the BJP of bringing in “hired goons” from outside states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to create disturbance here and urged the EC to ensure free and fair assembly polls.
“Several BJP leaders are sitting in hotels with huge amount of money and distributing it from there. They are conducting horse-trading,” Banerjee alleged.
She asked “where is the Election Commission? Where is their naka (roadblock) checking,” while addressing a rally here. The TMC has in the past too accused the BJP of buying up its cadre with the lure of money and positions. “The BJP leaders are trying to instigate violence in the area. Their activists are campaigning even after the scheduled time for it has ended. Unfortunately, the EC has turned a blind eye to all of it. We hope that the people would be able to vote without any fear or intimidation,” she told reporters later at night.
The letter and Banerjees claims of use of money and muscle power came a day ahead of the second phase of polls in West Bengal where the fate of Nandigram is to be decided among 30 assembly constituencies where elections are slated.
“The BJP is bringing goons from Bihar, UP to disrupt peace in Bengal. There are several outsiders here in Bengal,” the TMC supremo said at the rally.
She also urged the ECI “not to believe the BJP and implement any decision taken on the basis of their version of events”.
Banerjee, who is contesting from Nandigram assembly seat, was speaking at a rally at Singur for party candidates Becharam Manna who is contesting from Singur and Ashima Patra, the sitting MLA and contestant from Dhaniakhali.
She also hit out at the BJP for putting up the nearly 90-year-old outgoing TMC MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya, popularly known as ”Mastarmasai” (teacher), her trusted aide during the Singur anti-land acquisition movement, as the saffron party”s candidate for the constituency.
“I had thought of naming Mastarmasai in a committee, but he would not listen to it. He is a senior person and the BJP should not have made him campaign in this scorching heat,” Banerjee said.
The TMC chief also mocked the BJP for naming its sitting MPs to fight the assembly elections. “Look what has happened to Locket Chatterjee (BJP MP and movie star). She is an MP, yet she has been fielded in the elections for an MLA”s position,” she said.
Earlier in the day at a rally in Goghat, Banerjee had said she has photographs and videos of those who attacked her car in Nandigram on Tuesday and would take up the issue after the elections.
“Let the elections be over in Bengal, then I will take action,” the chief minister said. A visibly agitated Banerjee said of her attackers “I will see which `gaddar”” (traitor) shelters you. Where will you go? To Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan or UP. I will drag you back here (West Bengal).”
The fiery leader was heckled on Tuesday by alleged opposition party supporters when she visited a TMC worker, undergoing treatment after being beaten up. Her car was then chased by placard waving people, who TMC members said had attacked the vehicle.
At her last rally of the day at Uluberia, without naming the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Banerjee urged the people not to trust the political outfit from Hyderabad as “they were sent by the BJP to Bengal to eat into (other parties”) vote shares for BJP”s benefit”.