statesman news service
KOLKATA, 1 JUNE: The Trinamul Congress will face an acid test when more than 14 lakh residents of Howrah cast their vote during the by-poll for the Lok Sabha seat vacated due to the death of Trinamul MP Ambika Banerjee
Among other things, the result of the election will show whether the Congress continues to be a deciding factor in the state after it snapped ties with the Trinamul Congress.
The by-election is being held against a backdrop that varies vastly from the situation during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The Trinamul’s popularity is nowhere close to what it was then; public outcry over the Saradha scam has made matters worse for the TMC.
Although the loss of the Howrah seat will hardly dent the political stature of Trinamul, party chief Ms Mamata Banerjee has accorded priority to the by-election; she conducted a series of meetings in support of party nominee Mr Prasun Banerjee.
A victory in Howrah, which also comprises rural areas, will boost the morale of TMC&’s rank and file ahead of the rural poll.
Technology will play a big role in the poll; proceedings in 1,851 polling booths will be video-recorded, and the recordings will be sent to the offices of the Election Commission in Delhi, the state election commission and returning officers.
Android phones will also be provided to rural polling stations at Sankrail and Panchla, through which polling officers will convey vital information to the SEC.
In all, 15 check-posts have been set-up in different parts of the city. Vehicles would be checked even on minor suspicion, said a police official.
With about 35 companies of central forces guarding the booths along with the huge contingent of the state and city police personnel, the by-poll will be a test for the security forces before the panchayat elections.
In all, 180 executive magistrates would keep an eye on the situation on the polling day, while micro-observers deployed at each polling station will report to the two observers sent by the commission.