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West Bengal panchayat election: Parties condemn violence on poll day, BJP demands President’s Rule

The ruling TMC, which said that it lost six of its supporters in the violence, accused the opposition of instigating violence and hit out at the central forces for their failure to provide security to the voters.

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick Kolkata Updated on: July 08, 2023 16:21 IST
West Bengal Panchayat election, polls
Image Source : PTI Incidents of violence reported during polling in West Bengal Panchayat election

Polling day violence: As violence took the center-stage during the West Bengal Panchayat polls on Saturday (July 8), the parties, cutting across ideological lines, condemned the killing of 11 people in various districts, while the BJP sought President’s Rule in the state.

The ruling TMC, which said that it lost six of its supporters in the violence, accused the opposition of instigating violence and hit out at the central forces for their failure to provide security to the voters.

State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury alleged that the goons associated with the TMC are having free run and that the people’s mandate has been stolen.

The CPI(M)’s state secretary Md Salim claimed that the central force was not mobilised properly.

“The central force was not properly mobilised in spite of the high court order and it was a goof up between central and state forces,” he said.

Killing during poll violence

As many as six TMC workers, one each of the BJP, CPI(M), Congress and the ISF were killed since midnight today. Another person lost his life whose political identity could not be identified.

“Shocking incidents are being reported since last night. BJP, CPI(M), and Congress had colluded, demanding central forces. Where are they deployed? TMC workers are being murdered. Where are the central forces?" senior state minister Sashi Panja said.

In a statement, the TMC said that 27 people lost their lives since the polling dates were announced on June 8, and added that 17 of them were from the party.

“If Trinamool were indeed instigating violence, as the media is alleging, why would their own workers be targeted and killed? The Opposition has conceded defeat and is now attempting to shape the narrative around how violence affected the election, utilising their allies in the media,” it said.

BJP demands President’s Rule

Leader of the opposition in the state assembly, and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, demanded the imposition of the President's Rule in the state.

“A free and fair election under the state administration is a mirage. It is only possible only if elections are held under President’s Rule or Article 355,” he said.

BJP leader Rahul Sinha claimed that the State Election Commission is working as per the direction of the state’s TMC government and has failed to perform its duties.

"This is evident from the way they are conducting the polling today. At several booths, there are no central forces, while the state police are also absent in a few. I have got photographs as well as videos where CCTVs were not connected to wires even. This actually helped the miscreants carry out violence,” he said.

 

Voting underway 

The single-phased panchayat elections are underway in West Bengal. These elections are being seen as a test of the political parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Nearly 5.67 crore voters are likely to cast their votes to elect their representatives at the local level for about 928 seats spread across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat Samiti, and 63,239-gram panchayats seats.

There are 341 gram panchayats in West Bengal while the number of village panchayat election centres is 58,594. There are 63,239 seats at the Gram Panchayat level, 9730 at Panchayat Samiti and 928 at the Zila Parishad level. The TMC, in 2018, had won uncontested with 34 per cent of the seats in the panchayat elections, which also witnessed violence.

(With PTI inputs)

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