Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said 40 Trinamool Congress legislators were in touch with him and would desert their parent party once the BJP wins the polls. His statement sparked a controversy with the Trinamool alleging the PM was indulging in horse-trading. The party said it would complain to the Election Commission.
Eight seats of West Bengal went to polls in the fourth phase on Monday. Clashes broke out between the supporters of rival parties in some of the seats, including Birbhum and Asansol.
The EC directed the local administration to register a first information report against Union Minister Babul Supriyo allegedly trespassing into booth number 199 and threatening a polling agent and an officer. Supriyo is the BJP candidate and sitting MP from Asansol.
In Bardhaman’s Barabani, Trinamool workers allegedly vandalised Supriyo’s vehicle outside a polling station, after he had a tiff with polling officials inside a booth. In Jemua, voters fled a polling station after being threatened by miscreants.
Addressing public meetings in West Bengal’s Sreerampur Lok Sabha seat in Hooghly district and Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas, Modi ridiculed Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s prime ministerial ambitions. “Didi, Dilli door hai,” he said.
“Didi, even your MLAs will desert you when the results of this election are out. Your 40 MLAs are in touch with me and all your MLAs will desert you once the BJP wins the election. Political ground has slipped from under your feet,” Modi said in Sreerampur.
Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O' Brien alleged the PM was indulging in horse-trading. “Expiry Babu PM, let’s get this straight. Nobody will go with you. Not even one councillor. Are you election campaigning or horse-trading! Your expiry date is near. Today, we are complaining to the Election Commission. Charging you with horse trading,” O'Brien tweeted.
Modi criticised Banerjee for nepotism. “With just a handful of seats, ‘Didi’, you can't reach Delhi. Delhi is far away. Going to Delhi is just an excuse. Her real intention is to politically establish her nephew,” he said. Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek is a sitting MP from Diamond Harbour and the Trinamool candidate for the seat.
The PM accused Trinamool of poll violence. “Mamata didi your army of goons is trying to stop the people from casting their votes. Mamata didi, democracy offered you the position you occupy now. Don’t betray democracy. The people of West Bengal have made up their mind,” he said.
In Birbhum’s Dubrajpur, voters allegedly engaged in a scuffle with the central forces when they were barred from entering the booths with mobile phones. Security personnel reportedly opened fire in the air to control the mob, following which polling was stalled in the booths.
In Birbhum, the EC show-caused BJP candidate Dudh Kumar Mondal after he was seen talking over a mobile phone inside a polling booth, just before casting his ballot, the official said, adding that the presiding officer of the station has been removed.
The EC has put Trinamool’s Birbhum president Anubrata Mondal under scanner after poll workers complained that they feel “threatened” by his presence.
The EC has deployed 580 companies of central forces to man over 98 per cent of the polling booths in these constituencies to ensure free and fair polling.