Bengal results shoot down rigging theory
Kolkata, May 12 (UNI) With an overwhelming people's verdict going in favour of the ruling Left Front, not only the CPI(M)-led coalition consolidate its most precious citadel, but also blew away the theory of ' scientific rigging'.
As an amazing red sweep defied all laws of anti-incumbency against a 29-year-rule, what helped the Left most was to remove a blot put by the opposition by increasing its percentage of votes to 80 per cent, even in the imposing presence of the Election Commission, from barely 48 per cent in 2001.
The haul of 235 seats, which was the highest since 1991 and the steep rise in the share of votes of which the CPI(M) alone accounts for more than 60 per cent, silenced the opposition, so long crying hoarse over 'foul play' in successive polls.
''This proves the falsity in the allegation and shows that the Left Front survives on popular support,'' Left Front Committee Chairman Biman Bose said.
The elections this time were held in an unprecedented situation : a five-phase poll schedule spanning for 25 days and a string of hard measures by the Election Commission on the line of its action in Bihar. More than 60,000 central para military force jawans were concentrated in each pahse to man all the booths and guard counting stations, the state police was almost ostracized, About 600 observers-two for each of the constituency- and hundreds of sector officers were pressed into service for frequent visit of every booth.
A Deputy Election Commissioner physically monitored the situation by moving around during polling, about 2.5 million names were removed from the voters' list in an intensive revision, personally conducted by a team of EC observers who visited the state several times, photo identity card was declared as the only proof of the bonafide of the voter and on the top of all the Commission took full control of the state police and bureaucracy in poll-related matters.
The EC officials said from time to time the measures had been taken to ensure 'free and fair' elections. And that was what the Trinamool Congress and other opposition parties had all along said was lacking.
Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, who had alleged that the Chief Election Commissioner had been 'purchased' after the Front retained power in 2001, was upbeat this time after the EC initiated all the hard measures. In a number of election meetings she said the party should defeat the CPI(M) hands down now that ''the EC has met all our demands''.
It had been a long standing demand of the Trinamool as well as its partner BJP and the Congress that state government employees, majority of whom were members of the CPI(M)-backed Coordination Committee, be kept away from poll duty as they allegedly indulged in all foul plays to tilt the result in favour of the Front.
The EC conceded this demand also and deputed only central government employees and state officials for duty on the polling days.
The opposition leaders, including BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley had alleged several times that the percentage of polling, recorded in every election in the state was much higher than the national average and it was a pointer to the 'silent rigging' of the CPI(M). They had also drew the attention of the Commission to a number of constituencies, particularly in Midnapore (West) and Hooghly districts, where Left candidates had won by margins between 75,000 and more than a lakh.
But even amid the high EC alert and an impregnable security, things did not alter. Rather the percentage of overall polling shot up to 82 per cent the highest ever in the state from 75 per cent in the last election and the Front increased its tally by 36 from 199 it secured in 2001.
There was not a single order from the EC for repolling any of the large number of a total of 54,000 booths, recording 85 to 90 per cent polling nor was there any complaint or incident of violence.
And even the opposition agreed that the polling was peaceful and free.
''Even if the Left Front comes to power I would reiterate that the elections were peaceful and free and fair like never before, '' former Chief Minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, who had thrown his weight behind Ms Banerjee before elections, said two days before the counting of votes.
This was the first time that even Ms Banerjee did not raise any complaint in public nor was there any from the Congress or the BJP.
They were happy. But the happiest obviously is the Left Front.