Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has filed a petition in Calcutta High Court, challenging the election of the BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari from Nandigram. The high court today deferred the hearing of the petition to Thursday (June 24). The Chief Minister, who had contested from the seat that propelled her to power in 2011 to counter Mr Adhikari, had lost the election by less than 2,000 votes.
In her petition, Ms Banerjee sought that Suvendu Adhikari’s election be declared void under on three grounds — commission of corrupt practices including bribery, promotion of hatred and enmity, seeking votes on the basis of religion and booth capture; there were also discrepancies in the counting procedure and discrepancies and non-compliance in Form 17C, which is the account of votes recorded and the result of counting.
Ms Banerjee has questioned the decision of the Election Commission to reject her plea for a recount.
“Suvendu Adhikari has indulged in several corrupt practices that have enhanced his winning chances and materially altered Ms Mamata Banerjee’s chances of success in the election,” her petition read.
Ms Banarjee’s lawyer Sanjay Bose said they sought an order of striking down the election of Nandigram. The case was filed three days ago and now the matter will be heard by Justice Kausik Chanda — the first on the list of tomorrow’s hearings. The Acting Chief Justice had assigned the matter before Justice Chanda.
The BJP’s Amit Malviya soon took a dig at the Chief Minister. “How do you lose an election twice? First, at the hustings and then, like a sore loser, challenging people’s verdict in the court. It would be fascinating to see Mamata Banerjee suffer the humiliation of Nandigram defeat twice over,” his tweet read.
On May 2, the counting — which went on till midnight — saw several twists and turns.
Ms Banerjee had trailed Mr Adhikari for 11 rounds but the trend changed in the next four, with margins ranging from six to 11,000. Mr Adhikari gained in the final rounds and was declared winner.
Indicating possible irregularities, the Chief Minster alleged the next day that the servers were down for four hours during the counting.
“The Governor also congratulated me. Suddenly everything changed,” the Chief Minister said.
She also claimed to reporters that the election officer who oversaw counting in the constituency was threatened.
“I received an SMS from someone wherein Returning Officer of Nandigram has written to someone if he allows recounting then his life would be under threat. I can’t order recount. My family will be in ruin. I have a little daughter…,” she told reporters, reading from her cellphone.
Before the counting was over on May 2, Mamata Banerjee had said she accepted the verdict of the people of Nandigram, pointing to the landslide victory for her party.
“Don’t worry about Nandigram, I struggled for Nandigram because I fought a movement. It’s ok. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don’t mind. We have won the state,” she said.
But she also warned that she would go to the Supreme Court over the way the election was conducted by the Election Commission.
“I’ll appeal to all political parties. We will go jointly to the Supreme Court and we will ask the constitution bench. There must be some limitation, some laxman rekha for the Election Commission also,” she had said.