As the fourth phase of Lok Sabha polling is underway in the country today, the Election Commission has decided to keep controversial TMC leader Anubrata Mondal from West Bengal on a tight leash until the morning of April 30th. This decision taken by the Election Commission on Sunday comes after the representatives of the poll workers expressed fear of the leader and said they would feel threatened if the TMC Birbhum district president keeps moving from one booth to the other on the polling day.
On Sunday evening, the Election Commission representatives officially met Anubrata Mondal and asked him to deposit his cell phones. He was requested to cooperate with the District Magistrate and informed that a jawan of the Central Paramilitary Forces will keep a close watch on him until the morning of 30th April 2019. Election Commission officials clarified that this is not exactly a ‘house arrest’ because he is free to move anywhere under the supervision and that every move of his will be videographed.
A defiant Anubrata Mondal told CNN News 18, “Such a directive is not going to have any impact on the TMC’s vote share. I personally feel that EC’s surveillance on me will increase our vote share. If they want to take my mobile phones, I don’t have any problem as I can use any other phones. As far as ‘close watch’ on me is a concern, I have a principle that during polls I don’t go anywhere. I sit at the party office. I don’t keep my job pending for polling day”.
He then cryptically said that he has given medicine to all those with headache, body aches etc and he hopes the polling will be good. He added that this ban won’t have any effect since all the work related to polling had already been done.
In fact, there was police posted outside the BJP office in Birbhum where it was alleged that TMC goons had ransacked the office. Mondal had denied the allegation and instead, said that BJP is orchestrating these attacks just to “grab attention”.
Considering two seats in Birbhum district which are Birbhum and Bolpur are voting currently, this restriction on Anubrata Mondal could spell doom for Mamata Banerjee led TMC. Currently, TMC rules in both these seats and the victory is often and largely credited to Mondal.
In 2016 too, during the West Bengal Assembly polls, Anubrata Mondal had been put under 24-hour surveillance by the Election Commission.
In July 2013, he had asked his supporters at a public meeting in Birbhum to hurl bombs at the police and burn down houses of rebel TMC candidates in panchayat elections.
In September 2018, he was caught on camera allegedly instructing TMC workers to get a party rebel and a woman BJP leader arrested on a false case of possessing cannabis.
In April 2019, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anubrata Mondal made an appeal to the Election Commission (EC) officials to let him rig the polls and allow his people to “manage” 500-600 votes per booth.
The Trinamool Congress is notoriously known for electoral violence and other illegalities on the day of the elections. Last year, TMC had won 20,000 seats uncontested in West Bengal Panchayat elections amidst the allegations that the party which fielded its candidates on all rural seats, had prevented the filing of nominations by resorting to violence. The BJP had moved the Supreme Court to interfere in the matter of its party workers not being allowed to file nominations for the Panchayat elections.
Fearing serious violence and electoral irregularities in the West Bengal, the Election Commission of India decided to hold the elections in the state in seven phases starting from April 11 to May 19. The results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be declared on May 23