Bengal rural Polls: Violence continues on second day of nomination filing 

A Congress activist was shot dead on Friday, the first day of nomination filing, in Murshidabad district allegedly by TMC goons, a charge denied by the ruling party.

Published: 10th June 2023 07:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2023 07:54 PM   |  A+A-

Bengal Polls

Congress supporters during their protest in front of West Bengal State Election Commission office. (Photo | PTI)


KOLKATA: Incidents of violence continued on the second day of nomination filing for West Bengal panchayat polls on Saturday, with the opposition BJP, Congress and CPI(M) alleging their candidates were prevented from submitting papers by the ruling TMC activists and goons.

A mob entered a Block Development Office in South 24 Parganas district and assaulted an employee allegedly for distributing nomination forms to opposition candidates, while a local Trinamool Congress leader was caught with a handgun in Murshidabad district.

The TMC, however, trashed the charges saying the nomination filing process was by and large incident free and the opposition was making false charges as they are sure about the imminent loss in the panchayat polls having very little support base among the rural populace.

A State Election Commission (SEC) official told PTI: "Action has been taken on the basis of receiving every report and the nomination process was going on smoothly across the state."

The official said that as many as 1,360 nomination papers were filed on the first day across the state, and the process was smooth barring "some stray incidents" in a few pockets.

A Congress activist was shot dead on Friday, the first day of nomination filing, in Murshidabad district allegedly by TMC goons, a charge denied by the ruling party.

On the second day, incidents of violence and scuffling between workers of the ruling and opposition parties came from a number of districts such as Bankura, Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, Birbhum and Murshidabad districts.

At Domkal in Murshidabad, opposition parties alleged that goons belonging to the TMC were seen moving around with firearms near the BDO office, where nomination papers will be filed, and obstructing their candidates.

Civic volunteers were seen with lathis along with the police to control disturbances in Domkal.

Besides, BJP nominees were allegedly heckled by TMC workers at Labhpur in Birbhum district.

Similar reports of violence came from Bishnupur in Bankura, Katwa in Purba Bardhaman, and Babarani in Paschim Bardhaman districts, where CPIM candidates were allegedly prevented from filing their nomination papers by the TMC.

"There had been some stray incidents in the morning. But once we got the information, we alerted the police and remedial measures were taken. The process went on smoothly later on. On Friday, the number of nominations filed by the combined opposition was slightly higher than the number of nominations filed by the TMC," the SEC official said.

Opposition BJP demanded immediate deployment of central forces to conduct the panchayat polls while the TMC asserted that the opposition is hunting for excuses fearing defeat.

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BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya told PTI: "We have been asking for the deployment of central forces from the very beginning, but the partisan State Election Commission is yet to hear our pleas."

"Civic volunteers wearing police uniforms are now deployed to oversee the nomination filing process and ruling party miscreants are getting a free run. This is in blatant violation of the law. The TMC does not want the opposition to field candidates anywhere," he said.

TMC Rajya Sabha member and party spokesperson Shantanu Sen said the opposition had faced severe drubbing in the 2021 assembly polls and several assembly and one Lok Sabha by-election, all of which were conducted in the presence of central forces.

"People of Bengal are solidly behind the TMC and not with the BJP, Congress or the CPI(M). The opposition may demand deployment of peacekeeping force from the United Nations in panchayat polls if they want," Sen said.

State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha on Saturday called on West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose to explain the commission's stand on demands for extending the date of filing nominations for the state's three-tier panchayat polls and to explain steps taken to contain incidents of violence.

The 2018 rural poll process was marred by violence and alleged malpractices in several districts.

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