Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari on Thursday alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had put pressure on district officials during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to manipulate votes in favour of the Trinamool Congress, ANI reported.
“In Arambag, BJP candidate lost by 2,500 votes because votes of 16 EVMs [Electronic Voting Machines] were not counted,” Adhikari claimed. “BJP had won Jhargram and Purulia Zilla Parishads but votes for lotus symbol were replaced with TMC symbol overnight.”
He alleged that Banerjee had put pressure on the district magistrate and sub-divisional officers. However, Adhikari, who was a minister in the TMC-led West Bengal government until December last year, did not provide any evidence to back his claims of what potentially amounts to manipulation of voting machines and intimidation of polling officers.
His claims came after Nandigram, where he is pitted against Banerjee, went to polls in the second phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal. The polling witnessed chaos and political drama as supporters of the BJP and TMC clashed outside a booth.
Tensions erupted on Thursday morning while Banerjee was visiting Boyal area after leaders of her party alleged that the BJP was capturing booths and indulging in rigging. The chief minister alleged that the polling agent from TMC was not allowed inside the booth. Some people, reportedly BJP supporters, began shouting slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”. Soon, supporters of the Trinamool Congress gathered at the spot and the clash ensued.
Banerjee had to stay inside the polling booth for more than two hours as the two groups clashed and was later escorted out by the police and central forces.
In the evening, she accused the Election Commission of not taking any action even though her party lodged 63 complaints with the poll body. She however expressed confidence about winning and claimed that Trinamool Congress will get 90% of the votes in Nandigram.
Meanwhile, Adhikari told reporters Banerjee was doing “drama” and accused her of stalling voting for two hours at the booth. He too, claimed of garnering 90% of the votes.
The Election Commission, however, said that General Observer Hemen Das, who was sent to the Boyal booth on the basis of media coverage, said in his report that polling was not disrupted at any moment. The poll body also said that a separate complaint filed on the matter by Banerjee had been forwarded to the special general observer and special police observer. They have been asked to send a report on the incident by 6 pm on Friday, the Election Commission said.