Moderate turnout in Ranaghat South byelection amid allegations of electoral malpractice

Moderate turnout in Ranaghat South byelection amid allegations of electoral malpractice

Biswabrata Goswami

KRISHNAGAR, 10 JULY: The byelection to the Ranaghat South assembly seat in Nadia witnessed a moderate voter turnout, with 65.37 percent of the 2.3 lakh electorate casting their votes by 5 pm on Wednesday. The polling started slow but picked up pace significantly in the afternoon. By 9 am, only 14.29 percent of the electorate had voted, which increased to 26.32 percent by 11 am, and 42.19 percent by 3 pm.

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District Magistrate Arun Prasad reported that the polling process was “mostly peaceful.” However, the CPM has called for a repoll, alleging widespread electoral malpractice by the ruling Trinamul Congress (TMC).

CPM candidate Arindam Biswas accused the TMC of orchestrating violence and intimidation to influence the election. “The ruling TMC has brought criminals from various places and unleashed terror since last night at our party’s agents. Around 200 criminals riding motorbikes dared to march along the lanes and bylanes across the constituency in the presence of police and central forces. They didn’t allow many of our agents to sit in the booths today. Even BJP agents were not seen in most of the booths,” Biswas claimed.

An incident occurred at 1:30 am when a group of 40 to 50 miscreants allegedly attacked the house of BJP polling agent Ranjan Mondol in Pyradanga. Mondol claimed that the attackers, believed to be TMC supporters, broke the windows of his house and threatened him with dire consequences if he went to the polling booth. The miscreants even fired two rounds in the air. Police and central forces later intervened, arresting 26 individuals in connection with the incident. Despite the arrests, Mondol and his wife decided not to vote.

BJP candidate Manoj Biswas also reported threats and intimidation against his party workers and agents by TMC supporters, leading to a lower voting percentage. “TMC goons were standing at intersections everywhere, threatening people,” he said.

BJP MP Jagannath Sarkar also alleged that ruling TMC in connaivance with police and administration has turned the election as a complete farce. “They have looted votes, unleashed terror against opposition workers and agents and intimidated voters. Despite these malpractices, we are optimistic to win the poll” Mr Sarkar said.

The byelection was crucial for the TMC, with their candidate Mukutmani Adhikari facing a significant challenge. Veteran TMC leader Shankar Singh and Krishnagar MP Mahua Maitra were actively involved in the campaign, addressing workers’ meetings and monitoring the election closely. Adhikari, who previously won the constituency in 2021 as a BJP candidate by a margin of 16,515 votes, remains confident of victory. “This time, I will win by an even larger margin. The people of the Matua community have realized that the central government is trying to take away citizenship in the name of giving it. So the Matua vote will remain with us,” Adhikari asserted.

Mukutmani Adhikari recently switched allegiance from the BJP to TMC after losing to BJP candidate Jagannath Sarkar by 36,936 votes in the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP, buoyed by that result, remains optimistic. BJP candidate Manoj Biswas, who has extensive experience in the region, expressed confidence in his familiarity with the area, dismissing internal questions about his candidacy.

In a show of coalition unity, the Congress party had chosen not to field a candidate, instead supporting CPM candidate Arindam Biswas, a teacher by profession.

Tags: #RanaghatSouth #Byelection #ManojBiswas #MukutmaniAdhikari #BJP

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