Several hours into the first phase of the West Bengal Assembly polls, allegations and counter-accusations continue to fly between the BJP and the TMC. Both parties have accused the other of poll rigging and other intimidation tactics to persuade voters, and both have approached the West Bengal CEO and the Election Commission with their concerns. For the Adhikari family however, this poses an additional conundrum.
As most of us know by now, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be facing off against Suvendu Adhikari. A top lieutenant in the TMC camp until a few months ago, Suvendu is now contesting on a BJP ticket. Many of his family members (who wield considerable influence in many of the areas where voting is underway) have followed suit. Both his father Sisir Adhikari and his brother Soumendu have also recently abandoned the TMC. But their brother Dibyendu Adhikari has remained with the TMC.
As such, the family now finds itself at odds, with allegations flying. While Suvendu contends that several leading police officers are "helping" the TMC carry out alleged malpractices and irregularities during the polls, Soumendu insists that people were being stopped from voting at a polling centre in Contai.
Soumendu also contended on Saturday that his car was attacked and his driver injured because he had arrived in Contai and thwarted the attempts of TMC block president Ram Govind Das and his wife to indulge in poll rigging at three polling booths. "My arrival here created problem for them to continue with their mischiefs so they attacked my car and thrashed my driver," he alleged.
This in turn had left Dibyendu Adhikari treading a delicate line, as he acknowledged the role of Das in the incident and said that he had informed the police observer.