Even the Election Commission’s constant surveillance couldn’t deter Trinamool Congress strongman Anubrata Mondal from courting yet another controversy on Sunday as he cast his vote sporting a party symbol on his dress.
With the second phase of the West Bengal assembly polls underway in 56 constituencies spread across seven districts, many eyes were on Mondal, the Trinamool’s Birbhum district president, known for his penchant for making controversial remarks and vitriolic speeches.
While the Election Commission has sought a report after Mondal entered a booth in Bolpur sporting a party symbol on his kurta, the Trinamool strongman put the onus of his “inadvertent” act on the presiding officer.
“All my kurtas have this party symbol attached, I did not notice it. But the presiding officer could have stopped me. He could have reminded me,” said Mondal, asserting that he wasn’t sorry for the mistake.
Besides being show-caused by the EC for his controversial remarks against opposition leaders, Mondal is under constant surveillance of the poll panel and his movements are being videographed till the end of the poll process.
The team monitoring his movement comprises a magistrate and central security forces, which also have been stationed around his residence.
The EC move came in the wake of the demand by opposition parties and the civil society members for his arrest to create an atmosphere conducive for holding free and fair polls.
While there were reports of sporadic violence coming from Birbhum, Mondal asserted the polling process was peaceful.
“There was some incident in a booth in Ilambazar but there was immediate police intervention and everything has been sorted out. Polling has been very peaceful,” said Mondal.
Asked if the “peaceful votes” in the district — often in the news for pro-poll violence — was because of him being kept under surveillance, Mondal retorted: “I am not under any surveillance. No one has the ability to put me under surveillance.”
Reacting to allegations that polling agents from opposition parties were driven out from some booths, Mondal said: “If the opposition parities couldn’t arrange for polling agents, should I be liable for that?”
Mondal, who attained notoriety in 2013 for asking his men to “bomb the police”, days before Sunday’s voting boasted of “vanishing” opposition parties’ polling agents on the polling day.