In an unprecedented step, the Election Commission (EC) on Friday put the Trinamool Congress’s Birbhum strongman Anubrata Mondal under 24-hour surveillance of the poll panel. The move came barely 48 hours before polling was to underway in Birbhum district,
The opposition has alleged repeatedly that the elections in Birbhum would be a violent one unless Anubrata was restrained.
Reacting to the EC move, Mondal appeared unfazed. “I do not know why the EC has done so. Anyway, the time to hold rallies has ended,” he told HT from his home in Bolpur.
The full bench of the EC was in Kolkata on Thursday to take stock of opposition complaints over the first two rounds of polling in the state and plug all loopholes before the next phases. The chief minister was issued a show-cause notice that day and the EC promised to take stern measures against all those trying to disrupt the poll process.
A confidante of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Anubrata Mondal has been in the eye of a political storm for his controversial statements at rallies. Only a few days back, he had told reporters that he would ensure that the opposition parties do not put up agents in polling booths. Mondal has also been charged with intimidating voters.
Following the EC’s directive, a magistrate would shadow Mondal throughout the day and night, keeping a close watch on his movements. All this would be video-graphed and sent to the EC.
“The EC has directed that a magistrate and the central forces would shadow Mondal round-theclock from Friday evening. All his movements would be videographed,” said a senior official of the poll panel in Kolkata.
Opposition parties welcomed the move but said that it would have been better had Mondol been put behind bars. “We would have been happier if Mondal was kept out of the poll process,” Sidharth Nath Singh, BJP national secretary, said.