Elections took a back seat at Nandigram on Sunday. The local police and the CPI(M) got entangled in a bitter acrimony with the CRPF as voting progressed peacefully.
CPI(M) MP Laxman Seth publicly threatened CRPF chief Alok Raj over phone to restrict himself in his camps. Raj answered back saying he was doing his duty and Seth need not interfere. Two women voters had alleged that Raj molested them and filed complaints with the local police station. An infuriated Raj demanded an independent inquiry and threatened legal action. Later, CRPF women personnel accused the local police of harassing them.
That the CRPF and the CPI(M) would go in for a head-on collision had become evident since the last few days when ruling party objected to CRPF’s (read Raj’s) “highhandedness” and the way the force was “operating in a partisan manner”.
The fraying tempers reached a flashpoint on Sunday when the local CPI(M) MP, Laxman Seth threatened Raj not to go near booths. “You don’t roam around. You sit inside the CRPF camp,” Seth thundered.
Without being rude, Raj firmly told the MP him that he has the power to roam around in the area.
State Home Secretary, Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, made it clear that no public representative can give instructions to security personnel involved in poll related duty.
“I have nothing to fear. I know they are not liking my presence in Nandigram,” Raj told the Hindustan Times.