New Delhi: The battle between the BJP’s ‘kamal’ (lotus) and the TMC’s ghas phool (grass flowers) in Bengal’s electoral battle has entered a different sensory realm. With perfume on TMC’s EVM button, the party’s workers were standing at a ‘safe’ distance to ensure that votes were polled in their direction, said reports.
The polls in Bengal have seen sporadic clashes, allegations of rigging and booth capture. In Birbhum district, two constituencies Bolpur and Birbhum are voting.
As per a report published in Bengal daily Anandabazar Patrika, the TMC had found a novel method of voter intimidation. The report claimed that the local TMC leadership had sprayed ‘ittar’ (perfume) on the EVM button for the party. It quoted sources as saying that “if you vote for TMC, the smell stays on your finger”.
It alleged that after casting their ballot, voters and their fingers would then be “scrutinised” by TMC workers who would be standing at a distance of about 200 meters. The report added that several such complaints had been registered by those “whose fingers didn’t smell of perfume”.
“When a political party like the Trinamool knows that it has been rejected by voters, it resorts to every method known to subvert a free and fair poll,” said Shishir Bajoria, BJP leader and member of the party’s election management committee, while confirming the incident at Birbhum.
A source in the party said, “Ye naya nahi hai. Purana khel hai (This isn’t new. This has happened before).”
However, the ruling party has denied the allegations.
Earlier, on her visit to Birbhum, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee had asked her party’s district president Anubrata Mandal to be careful and, perhaps most importantly, “fight like a tiger”. The Election Commission, meanwhile, has kept the TMC leader under strict surveillance while the Lok Sabha seat goes to polls on Monday.
Mandal is the president of Birbhum’s TMC unit and has been involved in a number of controversies. With him under lock and key and with no access to mobile phones, Birbhum saw clashes between the TMC and BJP supporters in Nanoor turning violent with nine people being injured. Birbhum’s BJP candidate Doodh Kumar Mondal is also reportedly under the EC scanner after he was seen using a mobile phone inside a booth.
The TMC had won 87 percent of the gram panchayat seats uncontested in last year’s polls that were marred by violence.