Strange as it may sound, the CPI(M) was far ahead of its opponents in deploying polling agents in Jangalmahal on Tuesday. The Marxists drew a blank in 14 out of 87 booths but it was much better than its rivals.
The agents of jailed tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato were not present at 22 booths while Trinamool was a no show at 22. At Netai, the scenario was different with Trinamool hogging the show.
Neither CPI(M) nor Chhatradhar Mahato's group was able to field polling agents at the village where CPI(M) armed cadres gunned down 9, including 4 women.
"We could have easily deployed polling agents at Netai but that would have put their lives on the line. Marxist supporters would have stayed away. It was a tactical decision to stay away from Netai," said Tarun Banerjee, CPI (M) branch committee member in Lalgarh who headed the poll campaign.
Manoj Mahato, who campaigned on behalf of Chhatradhar Mahato, said, "Trinamool Congress has established its absolute supremacy in Netai. Even we could not deploy agents."
Shyamal Mahato, another key person belonging to Chhatradhar Mahato's group, said, "We found a person who agreed to be our polling agent. However, at the last moment, he told us that he was a bit late and was not allowed to enter the polling booth. It was nothing but an alibi."
Trinamool Congress also cited this particular reason to explain the reason for the absence of its polling agents at about 25 polling stations in Lalgarh. "Our agents were not able to reach the polling booths like Dwarigeria and Garra," said a Trinamool leader.
CPI(M) also gave the polling booths at Daintikri, Sijua, Dwarigeria, Narcha, Bonpukhuria, Knuapara, Papuria, Boragada, Kantapahari, Garra, Saontal-Dhanshola, Durlavpur and Purnapani.
"At 8 polling booths, we were not able to find any polling agrents," said Banerjee.
Shyamal Mahato said, "Since the armed cadres of CPI(M) are roaming in the area, we did not dare to deploy agents at Dharampore, Baita and Ramgarh. The anti-Left Front camp was vertically divided between Chhatradhar Mahato and Trinamool candidate Sukumar Hansda.