Trinamool’s Mondal active in polls despite EC vigil

Birbhum: TMC's Birbhum district chief Anubrata Mondal kept under surveillance by Election Commission after receiving complaints from vote officials that he was threatening them; on the eve of the 2019 Lok Sobha Polls, in West Bengal's Birbhum,

Kolkata,  Trinamool Congress’ Birbhum district President Anubrata Mondal, who is “under strict surveillance” following allegations of him threatening polling officers, said on Monday he is “not bothered” about the poll panel move.

Despite surveillance, Mondal was seen instructing party workers from a land line phone, and receiving calls from them and supervising the polls from the party office.

“How is the polling? What is the turnout? Speed up the process. I need a huge lead. Are there agents of other parties?” he instructed a party worker over phone.

When queried about the phone call, he said, “I have asked them (party agents) to apprise the presiding officer to speed up the voting process as many voters were queuing up outside the booths.”

Managing elections from the “control room” within the party office, he said there were reports of EVM snags and delays in the polling process.

He expressed his disappointment over the role of Central forces during the polls in the state.

Voting was stalled for some time at Poduma under the Dubrajpur Assembly segment after villagers vandalised the polling booth. The villagers clashed with the security forces following a dispute over depositing mobile phones, officials said.

To bring the situation under control, the security personnel fired in the air. In this context, Mondal said over the phone: “Tell them we have more firearms”.

Mondal, who went to the polling booth riding a party worker’s motorcycle to vote, said the polling in two Lok Sabha constituencies – Birbhum and Bolpur – in the district was largely “peaceful” and he was confident of winning both the seats.

The Election Commission’s move came after a group of Bengal poll officials had requested the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), West Bengal to take stringent measures and to “keep the said leader under house arrest”.

The script seemed to be a replay of the 2016 Assembly polls, when the EC had advised Mondal – who was under the poll panel’s surveillance then too – to refrain from moving beyond his constituency.

The commission had then taken the action against Mondal following complaints by the opposition that he was threatening them.