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The Election Commission has rejected the Trinamool Congress’s appeal for a recount of votes at Nandigram, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had faced her aide-turned- arch rival Suvendu Adhikari. The Returning Officer has said that the result will be officially declared after the VVPAT slips are tallied with the votes on the Electronic Voting Machines. After a day of yo-yo competition. the results this evening indicated that the Chief Minister had lost to Mr Adhikari by 1,736 votes in the contest that was the centre-piece of the assembly election in the state.
The Trinamool Congress had declared the counting process “fishy”. Ms Banerjee alleged “malpractices” and said she would approach the courts.
“Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. Nandigram was a sacrifice that was needed in the larger victory. We have won the state,” said the Chief Minister, whose party is heading for a stupendous 210-plus seat victory. “But I will go to the court because I have heard there were some malpractices,” she had said earlier this evening.
The Chief Minister’s announcement this evening came amid much confusion with the Election Commission website updations running excruciatingly slowly. Even around 10.30 pm, the site showed partial results from Nandigram, in which the Chief Minister appeared to be leading.
“Something is fishy about Nandigram, don’t you think? A party wins nearly three-fourths of all the seats in the state and the Chief Minister loses her seat – something very fishy went on in Nandigram,” senior Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien told NDTV.
Ms Banerjee had trailed Mr Adhikari for half the day as counting progressed. But Trinamool said it was to be expected since the votes belonged to a majority-community block. The tables would be turned, they said, once the votes from minority dominated areas are counted. By the evening, the contest had become a cliffhanger, with Ms Banerjee overcoming a 10,000-plus gap in votes and pulling forward. Thereafter, the results went yo-yo with every round.
For Trinamool, which is heading for a 210-plus seat victory against a massive challenge by the BJP’s hugely powerful election machinery, the Chief Minister’s defeat in Nadigram will be an acute embarrassment.
Nandigram was the place which had catapulted Ms Banerjee to power a decade ago. But the groundwork was said to be done by Suvendu Adhikari, who was one of Ms Banerjee’s closest aides.
The Chief Minister – stung by his defection in December – had taken the battle to his home turf, declaring that she would contest from Nandigram, quitting her regular seat in Kolkata’s Bhowanipur.
What followed was a deeply polarising campaign in which Mr Adhikari had tagged the Chief Minister a “begum” and warned people that votes for her will lead to the creation of a “mini Pakistan”.
Ms Banerjee had retaliated saying that she was the daughter of a Brahmin who knows her scriptures. Her Chandi paath in Nandigram a day before the filing of nomination, the injury to her leg the very next day and her delivery of speeches from her wheelchair were the high points of the red-hot campaign.