EC puts controversial TMC leader Anubrata Mondal under surveillance
No political leader in post-Independence Bengal has been kept under such surveillance in not one but two successive elections, EC officials said.Updated: Apr 29, 2019 07:50 IST
In a repeat of 2016, the office of the West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer issued an order on Sunday evening saying Anubrata Mondal, Birbhum district president of the Trinamool Congress, will be under surveillance during polling on Monday and will not have access to his mobile phone.
The CEO’s office said in an order that Mondal will be watched from 6 pm on Sunday to 7 am on Tuesday by an executive magistrate and a central armed police force staff. In addition, a videographer will record Mondal’s movement during this period.
No political leader in post-Independence Bengal has been kept under such surveillance in not one but two successive elections, EC officials said.
The district’s two Lok Sabha constituencies, Bolpur and Birbhum, will go to polls on Monday. The district is known for political killings and violence and Mondal has been accused of instigating these on several occasions.
Known for his inflammatory speeches, Mondal has always drawn more media attention than any other leader known to be close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee. On April 16, 2016, Mondal was kept under similar surveillance, though only for a day, when assembly elections were held in the district.
On Sunday afternoon, Bharatiya Janata Party Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh demanded that Mondal be sent out of the state and kept under surveillance till the polls are over. The CEO’s order was issued a few hours later.
The executive magistrate could not trace Mondal from 6 pm to 9 pm on Sunday since the TMC leader went on a tour of the district’s party offices. He appeared unperturbed when the media caught up with him after 9 pm.
“The Election Commission of India must have gone mad. It is acting on orders from Narendra Modi. This surveillance will not affect me in any way. And I don’t need my mobile phone to contact my men. I can use any phone. Our vote share went up despite the surveillance in 2016. The same thing will happen in this election,” he said.
“I went to our party offices in Suri, Muraroi, Labhpur and other places and told my men what to do tomorrow. I prescribed the right pills for every disease,” Mondal said in his signature style when asked what he was doing for more than three hours although he was supposed to be under surveillance.
In 2016, Mondal virtually made the EC chase him for eight hours. The EC’s attempt to keep him within sight of a deputy magistrate, eight Central paramilitary force personnel and a videographer had little effect on the Trinamool strongman. The surveillance, unprecedented in Bengal’s history, couldn’t stop him from meeting party workers inside his home, where the deputy magistrate and his men were not allowed. Later, he went on a tour of district party offices with the EC team following his car for eight hours and making stops along the way.
First Published: Apr 28, 2019 22:32 IST