TT, May 4: Chulsa, a small town in the Jalpaiguri Dooars, has become a place of last-minute election intrigue with the arrival yesterday of Mamata Banerjee, who was followed by the Congress’s Somen Mitra today.
This evening, when Mitra tried to check into the resort where the chief minister is staying, he said he was disallowed though he tried to get a room there for two hours. “When we tried to book a room in my name, the hotel staff informed us rooms were not available. Although online, it showed rooms were available. We tried online booking. Even that was denied,” Mitra said.
The Congress leader returned to Siliguri tonight. “It won’t be wrong to say that this happened on the chief minister’s instructions. Our people are in constant touch with Nirvachan Sadan. They are monitoring and have assured us, no one will be spared,” he said.
A day after unconfirmed reports emerged that Bharati Ghosh, a police officer known to be close to the chief minister, was seen in Cooch Behar and may also go to East Midnapore, the alliance did not want to take chances, its leaders said.
Mitra, on reaching Siliguri on the way to Chulsa, said: “A delegation of our party leaders met officials of the Election Commission in Delhi today and mentioned that the chief minister is staying close to Cooch Behar district, where elections would be held tomorrow. We apprehend that she might try to influence state government employees who are on election duty. Also, there are reports that some police officers of the state who are close to the chief minister are with her.”
He said there was an apprehension that “these police officers might influence their subordinates working in Cooch Behar. The Election Commission should look into it.”
The Congress leader said he was in north Bengal to monitor the elections. “The chief minister’s presence in Chulsa has made us come here to Siliguri. We… will stay in north Bengal tomorrow to monitor the elections. Party workers and leaders in Cooch Behar have been asked to inform us in case they face any inconvenience. We will sit here and pursue if any case is reported to us, with the Election Commission and administrative officials,” Mitra said.
When Mitra reached Chulsa from Siliguri in the evening, he first went to the local Congress office. After waiting there for two hours, he said he was on his way back to Siliguri as the resort had not allowed him to check-in.
Calls made by this newspaper to the resort’s phone numbers that are mentioned on its website did not elicit a response. Chulsa is 120km from Cooch Behar.
Mitra tonight said he planned to go to Chulsa tomorrow again.
CPM state secretariat member Asok Bhattacharya has decided to camp in Alipurduar’s Falakata, 40km from Cooch Behar, and monitor the elections from there.
“If Mamata Banerjee thinks she will try to influence tomorrow’s vote in Cooch Behar by sitting in Chulsa, she will not succeed. Common people will stop any such attempt during the elections tomorrow,” Asok said after reaching Falakata. “We are also prepared and collecting all possible information from different sources to foil any plan of the ruling party.”
Mamata stayed inside the resort throughout the day. In the afternoon, her vehicle came out of the resort and headed for nearby Metelli. Mediapersons were not allowed to follow her. Sources said she went for a walk in Metelli, then returned to the resort