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Keshpur a quiet picture

Keshpur, which has been synonymous with terror since 1998, was a symbol of peace this time. Koushik Dutta reports.

kolkata Updated: May 08, 2011 13:42 IST
Koushik Dutta

Keshpur, which has been synonymous with terror since 1998, was a symbol of peace this time.

The tables have turned in this one-time Left stronghold. The Opposition said polling was free and fair while the ruling CPI(M) complained about high-handedness of security personnel.

However, CPI(M) stalwarts are hopeful not only of a win but also of increasing the 2006 margin. "Everywhere here, elections have always been peaceful and it was a repeat this time too. But the CRPF forces deployed here have unnecessarily acted in a high-handed manner and lathicharged the common people," said Intaj Ali, a district committee member of CPI(M) in West Midnapore.

"At two places near polling stations, Mugbasan and Ichapur, they lathicharged our supporters and injured two people. But we are sure of a win," the leader said, sitting at Jamshed Ali Bhavan, the CPI(M) headquarters at Keshpur, in the evening.

In the last assembly election, the sitting MLA from CPI(M) who is contesting this time too, Rameshwar Doloi, got 70.5% votes, whereas his opponent, Trinamool's Ashis Pramanik, got only 24.7%. Doloi won the seat with a margin of 66,166 votes. And in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, CPI MP Gurudas Das Gupta got a lead of 1,12,752 votes.

From the assembly seat, Nandarani Dal of CPI(M) won with a record margin of more than 1 lakh votes in 2001. From 1998 to 2000, there were regular clashes in the area between CPI(M) and Trinamool, which claimed many lives. Many others left the place in fear.

After the CPI(M) took total control' of the area, fear was uppermost on the minds of everyone, particularly Opposition supporters. In the earlier polls, the opposition had alleged that the CPI(M) won by the means of rigging and creating terror.

Between the polls being declared and polling day, Congress and Trinamool both alleged that CPI(M) workers were beating up and torturing their supporters and leaders almost everyday. But on polling day, they expressed happiness.

Congress candidate Rajanikanta Doloi hopes to win the seat this time. He said, "This time there has been terror-free and peaceful election here at Keshpur. On the day, the people here have cast their vote freely. Many had not cast their votes because of the torture and fear of CPI(M). But, this time they have voted spontaneously. We were not able to have polling agents in all booths in earlier elections. This time we are able to give polling agents in all 240 booths here."

Congress leaders expressed happiness over the role of Election Commission and security personnel. "Though fear has not totally disappeared from the minds of the people, maximum people this time have spontaneously cast their own vote," said one.

This made them hopeful about change in Keshpur too. But, the CPI(M) candidate said, "I can say that this time the winning margin will be more than that of the last assembly election."

Heavy security was seen not only on booth premises. They were seen in other places too. And long queues were spotted in many booths.