A long harassing summer marked by clashes and COVID is, at last, being drawn to its end. Not literally, for summer in Bengal is to last for another one and a half months, after which the monsoon will take over. What will come to an end tomorrow is the polling season in Bengal. With voting in 35 constituencies in the districts of Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum and in the central and southern parts of Kolkata, the heat and dust will finally settle down.
After tomorrow, all eyes will be on the results, while the exit polls will create some excitement tomorrow itself. It was an unusual election also in the sense that the first time Hindu polarisation became a major factor in Bengal. The process started in 2019, during the Lok Sabha polls, and culminated in this assembly election. Buoyed up by this the BJP stalwarts like Amit Shah and J P Nadda claimed that BJP had crossed the majority mark after the sixth phase of polling, and congratulated the people of West Bengal for bringing in ‘asol paribartan’.
It was an unusual election season, no doubt. All earlier elections have been held in Bengal in the pre-COVID era. Strangely, as the BJP came out as a major force, a challenger hell-bent to dislodge the TMC, all cautions about covid were thrown in the wind by all the political parties. Meanwhile, former top cop Vikram Singh has moved the Delhi High Court yesterday to direct the EC to take action against the star campaigners who violated covid guidelines. But even if EC does so, it will have no bearing on the elections anymore.
While the Election Commission failed on this count, it has contained the poll day clashes to a remarkable extent. Except for in Sitalkuchi, nowhere else the miscreants could create major problems. The common man was happy with the paramilitary forces for maintaining peace. The BJP too was happy, and so also the third front (Congress, Left and ISF). But the TMC and its supremo Mamata Banerjee was peeved with their role and made them target of her political campaign.
Meanwhile, before the last phase, the EC have seized 1.45 crores of cash from various poll-bound areas of Kolkata yesterday. A cache of 30 lakh rupees was seized from Chowrangee constituency of central Kolkata, and 40 lakhs from a vehicle in the Jorasanko constituency of North Kolkata, and another 75 lakhs from other areas.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)