TMC complains of `partisan behaviour' by central forces, BJP counters Mamata violated model code of conduct

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Kolkata, Apr 2 (PTI) The Trinamool Congress on Friday complained to the Election Commission of partisan behaviour by central police forces in favour of its rival BJP, while the saffron party made a counter- complaint that Chief Minister Mamata Benerjee had violated the model code of conduct by being inside a polling booth in Nandigram for two hours on polling day.

A high level Trinamool Congress delegation, led by Yashwant Sinha, former Cabinet minister and now TMC vice president and state minister Subrata Mukherjee, met the Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab with its complaint alleging central police forces acted with partiality in favour of the BJP at certain polling centers.

Soon afterwards, a BJP delegation led BJP leader Sishir Bajoria and former governor Tathagata Roy told the Chief Electoral Officer that the chief minister's presence inside the booth for two hours disrupted the polling process and was against the model code of conduct.

Sinha told reporters after meeting Aftab that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are influencing the poll process by passing on instruction from Delhi.

'We have told them, the role of central forces have been partial in many booths in the first two phases. There have been incidents of violence and attacks on our party supporters by BJP. We have asked the EC to see to it this was not repeated in the next six phases,' Sinha said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday had also accused central forces deployed in Nandigram constituency, where she is locked in battle with her former lieutenant, Suvendu Adhikari now with the BJP, of helping the saffron party Central police forces function under the home ministry, which is headed by Amit Shah.

Sinha also said 'Union home minister Amit Shah is doing everything possible to influence people's verdict in favour of BJP by preventing the voters opposed to his party to excercise their franchise. This has to stop.' He said the TMC also flagged the issue of malfunctioning of EVMs during the delegation's interaction with the CEO.

Not to be outdone, the saffron party too made its complaints before the Chief Electoral Officer. 'The CM went to booth number 7 and sat there for 2 hours. She had obviously done this to slow down the pace of voting on getting feedback that the high voter turnout signified her defeat by a huge margin,' Bajoria said.

The BJP delegation said it would have raised the issue on Friday itself, but refrained as the CEO was tied up.

Bajoria said though the chief minister was free to go to any polling booth in the constituency as the candidate, sitting there for a prolonged period was violation of the code of conduct.

'The CM was also aware of the fact that section 144 CrPC was in force in her entire constituency. Yet she violated the prohibitory orders which also threatened to disrupt the peaceful polls with an assembly of people,' he said.

The BJP delegation, Bajoria said, also brought to up 'the brutal attack on our candidate Dipak Halder in Diamond Harbour by Trinamool Congress goons.

'This happened in front of the state police. We said that such incidents should be repeated,' Bajoria said.