TT, April 17: The picture in north Bengal booths and party offices today was quite the opposite of what has been seen in the first three rounds of polling in the rest of Bengal.
In the 45 seats spanning six districts in north Bengal, it was Trinamul today that accused police of being agents of the Left-Congress alliance.
No loss of life or serious damage to property was reported in this round where visits to booths across the six districts showed that many Opposition alliance leaders were confident of winning.
The glum faces rather were in Trinamul offices.
According to the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the six districts till 5pm was as follows: Alipurduar 82.07 per cent, Jalpaiguri 77.69, Darjeeling 74.00, North Dinajpur 78.90, South Dinajpur 82.72 and Malda 79.60.
A political observer said that the “most interesting fact” was that right from Malda to Alipurduar “leaders of the parties in the Opposition have remarked that polling had been free, fair and peaceful today”.
The political observer said: “Today, the mood of the Congress and Left leaders was different. Also, it is interesting that candidates and leaders of the ruling party have blamed the Opposition. There are instances when Trinamul workers and supporters have accused the police and administration of siding with the Opposition.”
In several instances, the alliance contestants were seen visiting booth more than their Trinamul rivals.
Asok Bhattacharya, the alliance’s biggest face in north Bengal and the CPM candidate for Siliguri, appeared relaxed and held a news conference to say he would win the seat. Gautam Deb, the most prominent Trinamul leader, however, went to his election office in ward 36 and was busy in collecting feedback from workers and making calculations till late in the evening.
Trinamul candidates Sushil Roy of Gajole and Asit Bose of Baishnabnagar in Malda district were not seen in booths or party offices after afternoon. Their contenders from the Left-Congress alliance, however, travelled across their constituencies till the last minute of polling.
Trinamul candidate Dhatrimohan Roy, contesting the Jalpaiguri seat, was not seen in booths or streets since the afternoon. But Sukhbilas Burma, the Congress candidate, was seen in booths, monitoring the polling process.
Trinamul candidate Purnendu Dey, contesting the Raiganj seat, briefly visited selected locations in Raiganj town. Mohit Sengupta, the Congress candidate, on the other hand, roamed around Raiganj.
In Alipurduar, Trinamul candidate Sourav Chakraborty sat in the party office and rebuked party workers for not working hard enough.
There were some incidents which proved the desperation of the ruling party leaders and workers.
Nirnay Roy, the Darjeeling district Trinamul Chhatra Parishad president, was seen shouting at policemen on the Siliguri Hindi High School campus this afternoon, alleging that the CPM was trying to bring outsiders to the booths.
The cacophony started just after the CPM’s Siliguri candidate Asok Bhattacharya left the polling premises.
Roy desperately tried to prove that the CPM was indulging in malpractice. The state police personnel cleared the area of people but also shooed away Nirnay.
In Jalpaiguri, Saikat Chatterjee, the Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Youth president, was critical of the police and called them “agents of the Congress and the CPM.”
Some central force jawans removed a handful of women Trinamul supporters who were within a 200-metre radius of a polling booth. They went to Chatterjee and complained. More policemen and officials rushed to the spot and dispersed them, which is when Chatterjee accused the police of colluding with the alliance.
“Such incidents prove the desperation of Trinamul. Even the local leaders are aware of the simmering discontent among voters, which is why these leaders have resorted to such antics. But such strategies won’t work,” Salil Acharya, the Jalpaiguri district CPM secretary, said. “We are confident of bagging the Jalpaiguri seat and some other seats of the district.”
In Siliguri, later this evening, Bhaichung Bhutia, the Trinamul candidate contesting against Bhattacharya, also accused the CPM of “highhandedness.”
“The CPM resorted to malpractices throughout Siliguri. We have filed complaints and have tried our best to prevent such acts,” Bhutia said. “We have left the decision on people and would wait for the results.”
Among the Trinamul candidates, Khageswar Roy of Rajganj and Anantadeb Adhikary of Mainaguri, were confident of winning their seats.
In Alipurduar, except Falakata, Trinamul leaders were found to be in a depressing mood.
“They were desperate to secure the Alipurduar seat as they have realised it is unlikely that they will win the three seats of the Dooars that are in the district. However, after today’s polls, we are confident Trinamul has least chances of winning even the Alipurduar seat,” Biswaranjan Sarkar, the Congress candidate of Alipurduar said.
Bhattacharya said Trinamul would win a maximum of five seats of the 45.