EC puts TMC's Anubrata Mondal under ‘strict surveillance’ as Bengal nears last phase of polls
- Anubrata Mondal holds considerable sway over the district of Birbhum. He was earlier put under house arrest during the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections and again during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Election Commission of India (EC) on Tuesday asked the West Bengal chief electoral officer to put Anubrata Mondal, the president of the Trinamool Congress' Birbhum district unit, under “strict surveillance” of the executive magistrate and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), starting from 5pm on April 27 till 7am on April 30, to ensure the conduct of free and fair polls. The poll body took the decision after receiving complaints and feedback from “various sources”, ahead of the eighth phase of the state assembly polls on April 29, when the district of Birbhum goes to vote.
“The Commission has directed that Shri Anubrata Mondal, district president of AITC, Birbhum, should be kept under strict surveillance of Executive magistrate and CAPF, round the clock from 5:00pm of 27th April till 7:00am of 30th April, for ensuring free and fair elections,” EC stated in its order issued amid the ongoing assembly polls. The commission also asked for Mondal’s movement to recorded in video “with date and stamping".
The development comes on the heels of a summon issued to Anubrata Mondal by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday, asking the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader to appear for questioning in connection with the agency’s probe into cross-border cattle smuggling. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, at a party meeting, said that she had asked Mondal to appear before the CBI after polling is over, according to news agencies.
"I told him to inform them that he would be able to visit their office only after the polling process is over. He is the president of the TMC's district unit and cannot be summoned all of a sudden in the middle of the elections,” Banerjee was quoted as saying at the meeting.
Anubrata Mondal holds considerable sway over the district of Birbhum. He was earlier put under house arrest during the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections and again during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee had urged her party's heavyweight leader, Mondal, to move court and seek protection if he is once again put under EC surveillance "like before".
Birbhum, with its 11 assembly constituencies goes to polls in the eighth and final phase of assembly elections scheduled to be held on April 29. Polling for the West Bengal assembly elections started on March 27, with the seventh and penultimate phase conducted on April 26. The votes will be counted on May 2.