Poll official threatened in Nandigram, says Mamata Banerjee
Nandigram’s results were shrouded in confusion on Sunday even as the TMC raced ahead in other seats.
The returning officer in Nandigram refused a recount of votes because his life was threatened and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will move court on the issue, Mamata Banerjee said on Monday, a day after she won a landslide victory in West Bengal but lost a close election to her protégé-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari.
The announcement came on a day the party said Banerjee will take oath as chief minister for the third term in a simple ceremony on May 5. “We will celebrate the victory once the Covid war is over. When the situation allows, we would hold a gathering at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata ...” she said.
TMC won 213 seats and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 77 in the state polls. But Nandigram’s results were shrouded in confusion on Sunday even as the TMC raced ahead in other seats. Trends in the high-profile seat, where a land agitation in 2007 propelled TMC to power in the state, seesawed between Banerjee and Adhikari, who is now in the BJP.
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Late in the evening, the election commission (EC) declared Adhikari had won by 1,956 votes. TMC immediately demanded a recount but was rebuffed by EC. This was Banerjee’s first electoral loss in 32 years.
On Monday, Banerjee alleged that the refusal was made under pressure and threatened to go to court against the decision. Showing a text message in her mobile phone to reporters, Banerjee said, “I cannot reveal who forwarded this but the returning officer, who wrote it, clearly says that his life was under threat. In the message, he said he was held at gunpoint and forced not to order a re-counting which we demanded.”
“At one point it was announced that I was ahead by 8,000 votes. After a while it was said there was a fault with the server. In the evening it was announced that TMC had lost. There were a lot of irregularities. The BJP could not have got more than 40,000 votes in Nandigram. We will surely go to court,” said Banerjee.
TMC continued its agitation outside the counting centre in Nandigram till Monday evening. TMC and BJP workers also clashed at several places.
Shortly after her victory on Sunday, Banerjee had announced that she will move the Supreme Court against EC for its “bad behavior” during the eight-phase state polls. On Monday, she reiterated that decision. “We will move the court against the EC. The verdict does not match the voting pattern in adjacent constituencies and rest of Bengal,” she said.
Banerjee alleged that the server was kept down for four hours, there was no power connection for nearly 40 minutes and the EVM was changed. “We would definitely move court. Our party workers are also staging a protest.,” she said.
EC officials did not react to the allegation. Adhikari was not available for comment but Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh dismissed Banerjee’s charges, saying she was unable to accept her defeat.
“Mamata Banerjee is making wild allegations because she is not being able to accept the reality. She lost the election because people did not accept her. She never accepts the law and court verdicts,” said Ghosh