While the jury is out on the fate of the four Independents in Hariharpara, Sagardighi, Jalangi and Bhagabangola in Murshidabad, who had jumped into the poll fray with the blessings of local Congress strongman Adhir Chowdhury, they did not appear too upbeat about their prospects as they did the rounds of their respective constituencies on Saturday.
Shamssujoha, the Independent nominee from Jalangi, was seen openly pitching for CPI(M) nominee Abdul Rezzak, barely a few hours after polling got under way.
Syed Alamgir, contesting as an Independent from Bhagabangola, was seen in a television talk show for an hour as opposed to overseeing the polling process. Though he claimed to have been out tracking the polling process with his men, he was seen cooling his heels at a camp office with no one around him.
It further turns out that Alamgir disappeared from Hariharpara shortly after polling resumed in the second half. “He went missing from Hariharpara after 1 pm,” said Niyamat Seikh, Trinamool nominee from Hariharpara and a one-time close aide of Chowdhury. Even the camp offices of the Independent nominee at Homaipur, Khidderpore, Raipur and Dharampur had no word on his whereabouts.
Chowdhury was briefed on the goings on of his handpicked Independents much before polling got over. He stopped short of regretting his call to field Independents even as he appears to have reconciled to the fact that voters are essentially polarised between the pro and anti-Left forces.
“I had earlier fielded Independents against Atish Chandra Sinha and Mayarani Pal and they won. This time, too, my candidates would win,” said the Behrampore MP.
He said that Trinamool had unilaterally announced candidates for Karimpur, Hariharpara, Bhagabangola and Jalangi in the Murshidabad parliamentary constituency despite the area having a sitting Congress MP. “If they win these four seats, they might even stake a claim for the Murshidabad parliamentary seat and same could trigger an existential crisis for us,” Chowdhury said.
The regional Congress satrap said he fears that the Trinamool chief could put him in prison, should she be voted to power.
“I could neither see Aminul Islam, an Independent nominee handpicked by Adhir Chowdhury or his men across several areas of the Sagardighi constituency such as Barala, Moregram, Banyeswar, Manigram and Bokhara,” said Subrata Saha, Trinamool candidate from the Sagardighi assembly seat in Murshidabad.
Chowdhury said that unlike Deepa Das Munshi, another dissident satrap of the Congress, he fields Independents to win.
Sagir Hossain, Trinamool nominee from the Bhagabangola assembly seat, who sustained a head injury after an alleged assault from CPI(M) supporters and Independents on Friday, sounded upbeat about his chances even as the polling touched 65% in Murshidabad at 3pm. “Syed Alamgir appeared timid through the day. Where were his supporters? His camp office was also empty,” said Hossain.
Murshidabad district magistrate Parwez Ahmed Siddiqui said, “Till 5 pm, the polling percentage stood at 82%. There are still long queues outside at 1400-odd booths out of a total 4,817 booths. We are expecting the eventual turnout to reach anywhere between 86 and 87%. We had to replace seven EVMs during polling and another 34 before voting began. We also had to remove 11 polling personnel from duty across seven booths.”