Is Bengal politically a conscious state ? The buzz is that Bengal have exceeded all expectations in comparison to other states in terms of voter turnout in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Despite the unbeatable heat, the voters turnout in terms of percentages seem to have given birth to a sense that some foul play is behind the high turnout.
Not only 2014 elections, Bengal have in the past polled over 80% of voting in the parliament as well as in the assembly elections. Isn’t something devious when India are polling at around 60% generally in parliament this election surpassing the previous records of 50%, Bengal voters turnout is also pushing ahead ? The opposition parties are crying foul. Large scale rigging & booth capturing have been reported from opposition parties. Election Commission, in spite of their best efforts, have failed to conduct the poll in a free and fair manner.
The first two phases of this year’s parliament election, which were held in North Bengal, saw a peaceful voting process barring a few small incidents. But from third phase, as the vote shifted from North to South Bengal, which is a strong base of the ruling party, the tooth and nail of the ruling party is out in open. The ruling party leaders openly claimed that they will fight the election in their own style which they have adopted from the previous government.
All kinds of fear tactics were introduced to stop opposition voters to come out and express their solidarity with their respective parties. The ploy to intimidate the voters was largely successful in the third phase of election. The video footage showed that a young man was beaten in front of his wife for violating the ruling party’s diktat “not to come out and vote”. The ruling Panchayat Pradhan was seen monitoring polling inside a booth and also casting vote for others.
The fourth phase of polling also observed violence in pockets of Purulia, Bankura and Asansol where the oppositions are expected to give a strong fight and are hopeful of a possible victory. Even the candidates of these constituencies were mobbed by the ruling party supporters and heckled in front of the administration who played a silent spectator. An entire village of 270 valid voters were initially opposed to come out and vote but fortunately, the police forced the goons out and allowed them to caste their votes. The most ruthless picture flashed as breaking news on television when a handicapped young woman who was wheel-chaired to the polling station, was beaten for coming out to vote.
Election Commission has been appealing to all Indian voters to come out and vote fearlessly to their candidates of choice which seems to have paid off, but they should, on the other hand, ensure that voting is peaceful and threat or fear is absent. The Election Commission has to find a new way to regulate the voting systems if the real democracy is to prevail in the country and a government of genuine representation of the people’s verdict continues in the states or at the Centre.