STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Siliguri, 8 July
Both the Congress and the Trinamul Congress leaders in Jalpaiguri apprehend that voters’ turnout will be reduced in rural polls this year than previous terms due to monsoon and holy ramzan month.
The political leaders realised the present fate of the poll schedule after the Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar and its catchments received heavy rains over the past 48 hours, inundating several low lying areas.
The rural polls for four districts in north Bengal was scheduled to hold on 9 July and the poll would be held on 25 July after it was rescheduled in Supreme Court.
Political leaders fear that several people would not be able to turn up to polling stations if heavy rains continue during the fifth phase.
People, who will observe fasting, would not be able to turn up to polling stations if the region receives rainfalls during poll time.
The MLA from Nagrakata in the Dooars, Mr Joseph Munda, a Congress leader, said: “Voters’ turnout will be drastically reduced than the previous years’ records because many people would not come to cast their votes if their houses are damaged by rains and floods. At present, the condition of village roads are not trafficable. Polling personnel will face difficulty in arriving at their destinations due to the bad condition of roads.”
“We fear that the region may receive heavy rains in the third and fourth weeks of July. Most of the people, including minority community, who will observe fasting, will be engaged in plantation of paddy taking advantage of heavy rains. Those people would not turn up to polling stations on time,” Mr Munda said.
However, the Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Congress president, Mr Chandan Bhowmik, said: “Perhaps it would be difficult to conduct the rural polls smoothly during heavy monsoon. We fear that the region might receive heavy rains when the rural polls would be held in north Bengal.”
According to Mr Bhowmik, the state Trinamul leadership has asked them to keep in touch with the people, including the minority community who will observe ramzan living in flood-prone areas, and informed the administration about their plight.
Mr Bhowmik said: “Several people, who live in several islets of the river Teesta, would face difficulty in reaching polling stations, after their houses are submerged. They would have to depend only on the government&’s relief during floods.”
“Political parties, including the MLA or MPs, would be able to provide relief to avoid violation of model code of conduct,” he said.
“We are keeping in touch with the administration about the present flood-like situation,” he added.