Trinamool and CPI(M) polling agents were eyeball to eyeball and for once the latter blinked in the Marxist heartland.
An exchange of angry words was heard from the first floor of the Kendua Mahendra Nath High School off Gangulybagan. The unit head of the BSF ran to pacify tempers around 3pm.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee agent was stunned. For the first time since 1987, the Opposition had found its voice in Jadavpur, the impregnable red fort.
"Do not shout. I am telling you. I repeat. Do not shout. Allow this person to cast his vote peacefully," said a polling official. Trinamool candidate Manish Gupta's agent was unperturbed. "This person will not be allowed to cast his vote as he does not have any photo identity proof. Just carrying the voter's slip is not enough." The person had to retreat.
Trinamool foot soldiers challenged the CPI(M) in ways it could never be imagined even during the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election in 2010. The Opposition had always accused the ruling party of resorting to polling tricks in this polling station in ward 101.
The tables have turned under the assurance of barrel of INSAS and SLR carried by central paramilitary forces. Obviously, Mao Zedong was right when he said power flows from the barrel of a gun. Again, the body language of Trinamool workers, though outnumbered in wards 110, 101 and 102, was aggressive as they fought a battle of nerves with Marxists who were a tad demoralised.
Gupta, the former chief secretary, led from the front. "The Marxists successfully jammed 10 polling stations in 101 and 110 ward. But how could it be done in the presence of BSF? The role of central paramilitary forces was not satisfactory in my constituency," said Gupta. Jadavpur recorded around 80% polling. Trinamool, in its quest for victory, played a tactical game and concentrated on wards that were Marxist bastions. They had no complaints for wards 96, 99, 103, 104, 105 and 106 — all under Trinamool councillors.
Gupta and his chief election agent Debabrata (Moloy) Mazumdar were also roaming in CPI(M) strongholds. Almost every minute, they and their supporters put the police and security personnel on toes by alleging rigging, booth jamming and false voting. Accordingly, the security personnel were rushing from one place to another. The Trinamool strategy was to create enormous pressure on CPI(M) workers and to create panic among Communist voters. Former mayor and the chief minister's poll agent, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, said, "Trinamool is making false complaints and disturbing peaceful polling. They are harassing voters." The mayor was visiting Mahamaya Pathshala after getting information of a scuffle. The booth is in ward 101 and adjacent to the house of ruling party's MLA and councillor Chandana Ghosh Dastidar, whose husband is the zonal committee secretary.
As the clock ticked to 5pm, Gupta was still visiting sensitive booths such as Kendua Girls High School, where CPI(M) worker Bapi Dhar was killed during the KMC polls in 2010. His visit in the last hour worried CPI(M) workers.