Mamata raises concern over sudden rise in voter turnout, questions EVM credibility

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, in Malda district, Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting for Lok Sabha elections, in Malda district, Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Farakka/ Baharampore | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday criticised the Election Commission for the "delay" in releasing the final voter turnout figures for the initial two phases of the Lok Sabha polls.

She also expressed concern over the sudden increase in polling percentages during those phases.

Addressing two back-to-back rallies in minority-dominated Malda and Murshidabad districts, Banerjee accused the Centre of neglecting the state as it has a high percentage of minority and backward communities.

The commission made public the voter turnout of the first two phases of polling, which were held on April 19 and April 26, on Tuesday evening.

According to the EC, a voter turnout of 66.14 per cent was recorded in the first and 66.71 per cent in the second phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

"The EC gave a figure of polling percentage immediately after the elections. But yesterday, I came to know about the sudden jump in final voter turnout by nearly 5.75 per cent, which is worrying. The percentage has increased in places where voting was not in favour of the BJP. There are lots of doubts and the commission must address it," she said.

"There are apprehensions of manipulation of results by the BJP as several EVMs were missing for a long period," she said while addressing a rally at Farakka in Murshidabad district.

The TMC supremo said the sudden spike in poll percentage is not just "disturbing" but also raises "serious apprehensions about the credibility of EVMs".

"The details of EVM makers should be made public by the Election Commission as the BJP can stoop to any level to win elections," she said.

Voting for the general elections is being held in seven phases, with the remaining phases scheduled for May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1.

The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

Both the TMC and the BJP have claimed that panic has set in the opposite camps sensing defeat in the first two phases.

Referring to BJP as a "Jumla" party only interested in "publicity" by making false promises, she said, "Did any citizen of this country get Rs 15 lakh in their bank account as promised during the 2014 election campaign? The BJP has been depriving West Bengal by withholding due funds. The Union government especially neglects the state since the percentage of minority and backward class populations in the state are comparatively higher."

While speaking at the minority-dominated areas, Banerjee criticised the opposition bloc INDIA partners - CPI (M) and Congress - for "joining hands with the BJP" in West Bengal and asserted that the opposition front ceases to exist in the state.

"Don't vote for CPI (M) and Congress in West Bengal as they are agents of the BJP. Voting for the CPI(M) or Congress means voting for the BJP and voting for the BJP will lead to your democratic rights being taken away," she said.

Banerjee said there is no INDIA alliance in West Bengal.

"The CPI (M) and Congress are contesting in minority-dominated seats so that they can help the BJP by cutting into TMC's votes," she said.

Influence of the minorities in West Bengal, constituting nearly thirty per cent of the electorate, extends to 12-15 Lok Sabha seats, making them a coveted voting bloc for all parties.

Banerjee accused the BJP of "peddling lies" about the state government's submission of utilisation certificates for central projects.

"We have given utilisation certificates for all the funds that we have received in the last 13 years. The BJP has withheld funds for political reasons. We condemn BJP's policy of depriving the poor," she said.

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