By-polls underway in West Bengal’s Nandigram, Sujapur

January 5th, 2009 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Jan 5 (IANS) By-polls were underway Monday amid tight security in two West Bengal assembly constituencies - East Midnapore district’s Nandigram and Malda’s Sujapur.”The poll process, both in Nandigram and Sujapur, is going peacefully. We have got no reports of any untoward incidents so far,” West Bengal Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS around 11 a.m. Momday.

He said “adequate” number of paramilitary forces were deployed in all polling booths in Nandigram and Sujapur to avert any violence during the election.

According to police sources, all the 176 booths in Nandigram, which witnessed spiralling violence over proposed land acquisition for industry in 2007, have been declared sensitive. At least 15 companies of central paramilitary forces, comprising Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Forces (BFF), have been deployed in the region.

A large number of observers is also present in the polling booths in the troubled East Midnapore constituency. About 180,000 people are eligible to cast their votes in Nandigram.

The political rivals - the Trinamool Congress and the ruling Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - are trying to cash in on the sentiments of the people who suffered heavily in the violent political clashes over the aborted land acquisition over a proposed chemical industry hub.

For the by-poll, Trinamool Congress has fielded Firoza Bibi, who lost her younger son Indadur in the March 14, 2007, police firing.

Left Front partner Communist Party of India (CPI), whose representative Sheikh Mohammed Illias won the seat in 2006, has named Paramananda Bharati, a veteran teacher of the area, as its candidate.

Illias resigned following his alleged involvement in a bribery case. A sting operation by a television channel had shown him apparently accepting a bribe of Rs.10,000 from an NGO for development work in his area.

Tight security is in place for the by-poll in Sujapur as well.

Twelve companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Sujapur. Additional police personnel from adjoining districts such as Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri and North and South Dinajpur districts have been called in to maintain law and order in the area, officials said.

The by-election was necessitated following the death of Congress legislator from Sujapur Rubi Noor - sister of late Congress leader Ghani Khan Choudhury - in July last year.

The main contest is expected to be between CPI-M candidate Haji Ketabuddin and Congress candidate Mausam Benazir Noor, daughter of the deceased legislator.

The Trinmool Congress decided not to field their candidate for the seat as a tribute to the late Congress leader Ghani Khan Choudhury.

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