LF registered "worst poll performance" since 1977
Kolkata, 16 May : West Bengal's seemingly impregnable red fort collapsed on Saturday with the opposition Congress and Trinamool Congress alliance poised to win more than half of the 42 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The Left Front has come up with its worst performance since 1977.
The Trinamool-Congress combine could end up with 26 seats, reducing the Left Front to 15. BJP won the Darjeeling seat. In the 2004 elections, the Left Front had finished with a whopping 35 seats, while the Congress and the Trinamool had to be satisfied with six and one respectively. But this time, the LF could end up losing 20 of the seats it won five years back. This is the LF's worst performance since 1977, eclipsing its previous lowest tally of 26 in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.
The LF, however, succeeded in retaining its base in south western belt of Bankura, Purulia and Mindapore West, besides doing well in Burdwan district. Among the prominent candidates who have won or are set to win are External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee from Jangipur, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee from her pocket borough of Kolkata South and CPI(M) leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya from Bankura.
All the three glamorous candidates of the Trinamool - singer Kabir Suman (Jadavpur), and film actors Tapas Pal (Krishnanagar) and Shatabdi Roy (Birbhum) - won from seats held by the LF earlier.
Port Blair, 16 May : In a nail-biting contest, BJP candidate Bishnu Pada Ray defeated his nearest Congress rival Kuldeep Rai Sharma by a margin of 2,990 votes for the lone Lok Sabha seat from Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The BJP candidate got 75,211 votes while the Congress candidate got 72,221 votes. The Andaman NCP candidate Uma Bharathy got 4,698 votes, RJD’s P R Ganeshan got 4,916 votes and CPM’s Tapan Bepari got 7,190 votes.
Andaman and Nicobar constituency has always been with the Congress except once, and that was when Ray won in 1999.
Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, in her press conference at Kolkata, had alleged that CPI(M) cadres had unleased terror on Trinamul sympathizers in Birbhum and Hooghly after facing a crushing defeat in the polls.
She demanded that the ruling Left Front government maintain law and order. Mamata said she would appeal for peace and ask her supporters to keep restraint but if the CPI(M) continued with its attacks, then it was the duty of the government to take action.
Setback to Congress, AGP gains for BJP in Assam
Santosh Mohan Dev lost Silchar seat, become 3rd
Guwahati, 16 May : The ruling Congress and the major Opposition party, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), suffered setbacks in Assam while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the debutant Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) emerged stronger in the State in which the poll outcome dashed the Congress hope to repeat or improve its performance from that of 2004.
AUDF president and perfume mogul Badruddin Ajmal won the Dhubri seat by a huge margin but came second in Silchar constituency that was won by the BJP candidate and former Union Minister, Kabindra Purakaystha. Prominent losers in the State included Union Minister for Heavy Industries and so-called Congress heavyweight Santosh Mohan Dev in Silchar.
People of West Bengal have rejected CPM : Mamata
Kolkata, 16 May : Flush with success of the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance in Lok Sabha poll in the Left bastion of West Bengal, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday demanded early assembly election in the state, saying the people have expressed no-confidence in CPI(M)-led ruling Front.
"The people have expressed no-confidence in the CPI(M)-led LF through their verdict in Lok Sabha poll and we want an early assembly poll in the state", she told Bengali news channel Star Ananda even as the results trickled in.
Chittagong Arms haul Case : 2 Ex-NSI DGs arrested
Chittagong, 16 May : The Bangladesh Criminal Investigation Department (CID) early today arrested two former director generals (DG) of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) in connection with the 10-truck arms haul case.
Maj Gen (retd) Rezaqul Haider Chowdhury and Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim Chowdhury were picked up from their DOHS residences at Mohakhali in the capital, confirmed the CID and the NSI senior officials. According to sources during the arms haul in Chittagong in 2004, Abdur Rahim was DG of the NSI while Rezaqul Haider was director of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI). Rezaqul Haider also served as DG of the NSI later.
CID sources said both the former NSI bosses are being taken to Chittagong. Today's arrests were followed by confessional statements by former NSI director Sahab Uddin and arrested NSI Field Officer Akbar Hossain Khan.
Howrah, 16 May : Railway staff has rescued over 1000 turtles from smugglers at the Howrah Railway station. It has handed over the turtles to the forest department. The live turtles were kept inside a parcel box. Their movement attracted the notice of the railway police.
“It is a banned item and no one can book it. There was heavy rain last night and the box was torn and because of that the tortoises were coming out. We have taken necessary steps. The forest department has been informed. They will come and take them,” said Somnath Chatterjee, a senior railway police officer.
CPI(M)'s Khagen Das is leading in West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency by 56,225 votes over his nearest Congress rival Sudip Roy Burman after the first round of counting.
COUNTING OF VOTES BEGAN : Kolkata, 16 May
(R) Photo shows a counting center at Netaji Indoor Stadium, where hundreds of polling officers of the Election Commission of India (ECI) are busy in counting votes from EVMs.
(L) A polling officer of the Election Commission of India (ECI) displays the number of vote polled on an Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to the party agents during the vote counting process at Dinabandhu Andrews College counting center in Garia.
However, a CPI(M) leader criticised the workers for celebrating in advance. “One may be confident about a seat. Yes, Dum Dum is a stronghold. But starting such celebrations even before the results are announced is a bit foolish,” said north 24 Parganas district CPI(M) leader Tanmoy Bhattacharya.