Violence hits West Bengal as parties clash amid panchayat election nomination process
Kolkata: The situation across various districts of West Bengal remained tense on the second day of the panchayat election nomination process, media reports said.
Many candidates were unable to file their nominations on the first day. The Opposition alleged that Congress workers were beaten by Trinamool Congress supporters.
While tension continued, the BDO office in Murshidabad district was gheraoed.
On Saturday, the workers of Congress and its ally CPM attacked TMC activists, which led to further escalation of the violence. This came after Congress worker, Fulchand Sheikh, 45, was shot dead on Friday, India Today reported.
Sheikh was murdered on the first day of the filing of the nomination. Congress alleged that the TMC was behind the murder of its worker.
During the chaos, a firearm was discovered in the possession of Bashir Mollah, a local leader affiliated with the Trinamool Congress in Domkal. Following the recovery, Mollah was arrested and taken to a nearby police station for further investigation and legal action, the report said.
On Friday, Domkal, which is some 32 km away from Murshidabad, witnessed a tumultuous situation as party candidates prepared to submit their nominations for the crucial panchayat polls, the report stated.
According to reports, CPM workers claimed that supporters and members of the Trinamool Congress surrounded the Block Development Officer (BDO) office, turning the area into a battlefield.
Domkal is a town and headquarters of the Domkal Subdivision in Murshidabad district.
The opposition party workers further alleged that they were targeted by miscreants linked to the ruling party.
The opposition workers united and reached the BDO office to submit their nominations.
The workers and supporters of the Trinamool Congress were chased by the opposition workers. The confrontation escalated to the point where both groups resorted to stone pelting, resulting in damage to several vehicles amidst the violent clashes.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the attack on Congress and CPM leaders clearly reflected how TMC was using muscle power to decimate its rivals.
Slamming Mamata Banerjee’s party, Chowdhury said TMC had no wish to contest the election with the ballot and was using bullets to suppress the Opposition’s candidates.
He alleged that free and fair elections would be virtually impossible under the Mamata Banerjee regime in West Bengal and demanded the deployment of Central forces to conduct the rural polls.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury met the family of injured Congress workers at Khargram, Murshidabad. He said TMC goons are targeting INC workers and their families post declaration of Panchayat elections dates.
According to a Congress leader from Murshidabad district, Sheikh was shot six times, and the two individuals who sustained injuries were also members of the Congress party, the India Today report said.
However, local leaders from the Trinamool Congress alleged that the killing was a result of personal rivalry and accused Congress of politicizing the incident.
In another incident in Birbhum, violence broke out during the nomination filing as BJP Mandal Vice President Somanath Mandal was accused of assaulting opposition party members.
It was alleged that Somanath Mandal physically attacked them. The opposition accused Trinamool Congress-backed miscreants of obstructing the BJP candidates and their leaders.
A clash between Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) workers took place in Baraboni, Asansol, during the nomination filing at the party office. Both sides accused each other of attacking. The police intervened to control the situation.
The upcoming three-tier panchayat polls in West Bengal, considered a litmus before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, are scheduled for July 8.
The State Election Commissioner, Rajiva Sinha, announced that the rural council elections would be held on a single day, with the deadline for filing nominations set for June 15. The votes will be counted on July 11.
Opposition leader in West Bengal Assembly Subhendu Adhikari said the security deployment would not be sufficient for the single day poll and predicted blood bath during the voting.
"42,000 police personnel will be deployed to facilitate voting in 70,000 booths across the state in a single day! This is inviting death. Paramilitary forces must be deployed," he said.
According to Adhikari, the situation is likely to get out of control as the opposition is expected to further increase its resistance against the ruling TMC.
Reports of clashes are pouring in from different parts of WB. @BJP4Bengal Candidates are being blocked from filing nominations at Labhpur; Birbhum district, by the TMC Goons. Our Candidates & Party Leaders have suffered serious injuries.— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) June 10, 2023
TMC anti-socials have established a reign… pic.twitter.com/cQLEHFfjF7
Meanwhile, BJP leaders, including Sukanta Majumdar and Agnimitra Pal, have met wiith the Governor in Raj Bhavan to express their concerns.
According to BJP sources, the state government unilaterally decided to hold the panchayat election just days after the appoitment of the new State Election Commissioner without consulting the opposition.
The BJP delegation approached the Governor's office to lodge a complaint over the matter.