New Delhi: Just 24 hours before Bengal votes, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta alleged at least 50,000 burqas are being brought to the Diamond Harbour constituency of West Bengal, sounding an alarm bell to the Election commission. He said, not only the chief electoral officer has been alerted about the same but the Special observers are also being told, insinuating that the burqas may be used to fake vote in the election scheduled on Sunday.

Long-standing burqa row

The burqa row didn't erupt for the first time this election. This April the BJP candidate from Amroha sounded an alert bell. Kanwar Singh Tanwar, BJP's sitting MP had said, "All these (burqa-clad voters) are fake voters…. They are casting fake votes for BSP candidate. I demand their frisking….I have also complained to the DM". BSP too accused the BJP of same. Danish Ali countercharged, "All these (burqua-clad voters) are BJP votes… the BJP is getting votes cast for its candidate under cover of Burqua".

Earlier the BJP candidate Sanjeev Balyan too made such a charge. "Faces of women in burqas are not being checked, and I allege that fake voting is being done. If not looked into, I will demand a repoll", he had said back then. 

What is the reality?

When Balyan's comment triggered a controversy, UP Chief Electoral Officer L Venkateshwarlu had told news agency PTI, "Wherever there are burqa-clad women voters, women poll officials are posted to ascertain their identity". When MyNation contacted the Election Commission, an official said, "A mechanism is put in place to ascertain the real identity of the voters and so that no one else can vote in place of someone else. This mechanism has been in place for long."

So What is the brouhaha all about? And will a Rajya Sabha MP sounding an alarm bell over 50,000 burqas being brought in volatile Bengal, that has already witnessed large scale booth capturing in past phases of election, hold water? As of now, Dasgupta hasn't presented any evidence to his claim. But sources say, considering the violent nature of electoral politics in Bengal, the Election commission has alerted concerned district magistrates.