K.V. Prasad

First round polling `gives the lie to' allegations against Left

Dhantala (Nadia district): As the campaigning for the second phase of elections to 66 constituencies in West Bengal Assembly ended here on Thursday, there was a sense of elation among the grassroots workers of the Left Front.

The mood bordered on euphoria not at pre-poll/exit poll projections of a sweep for the ruling combine but at having passed the stiff test set by the Election Commission, which at the end of polling in 45 constituencies in the first phase on Monday declared that everything was in order.

And Garbeta was the toast of workers preparing for round two polling due on April 22 in Howrah, Hooghly, Nadia and East Medinipur. Reports of near cent per cent voting in Garbeta and 81 per cent overall added to the thrill.

``Now we have a certificate from the Election Commission. It is for everyone to see that the charge our parties indulge in scientific rigging or booth-jamming is nothing but lies,'' said Subol Biswas as others with him nod their agreement.

Biswas, 25, who described himself as an activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has travelled from his Ranaghat area in the neighbourhood to hear Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at a rally on Wednesday.

Gone is the air of uncertainty as to what the Election Commission would do after having announced that it might order re-poll in booths that reported over 90 per cent of voting. Though the measures resulted in long queues and extension of close of voting, the party workers were not complaining. For it reflected the work put in by the cadres in ensuring that people exercised their franchise.

Ashim Bala, the sitting MLA from Ranaghat East, who has been replaced with the former policeman, Debendranath Biswas, felt that the charge by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banjeree had much to do with the Commission's stern directives.

He too felt that the first round had resulted in debunking the allegations against the Left parties. ``It is our work that stood us in good stead'' he told The Hindu while standing with the crowd at the rally. As for the decision not to give him a ticket, Mr. Bala said it was a party decision that afforded others an opportunity.

In neighbouring Hastikali reserved constituency, State Minister Naren Sarkar had no complaints with the strict vigil by the Commission. Welcoming it, he said, it would ensure peaceful voting. His supporters said the presence of paramilitary would keep the polling free of any ``jhamela'' (clashes).