Bengal Panchayat Polls: Opposition raises alarm over law & order

Kolkata | Updated: 17 June, 2023 9:26 pm IST

KOLKATA: As the state of West Bengal prepares for the upcoming panchayat elections, the Opposition has raised concerns about the deteriorating law and order situation and the potential for violence. CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakroborty, on Saturday, questioned the government’s commitment to conducting fair and peaceful elections scheduled for July 8.

Chakroborty highlighted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent claim of unprecedented peaceful nominations in India, suggesting that it may reveal hidden agendas within the government and raise serious implications. He further emphasized the alarming state of the administration, which appears to be under the influence of the ruling party.

During an interview with The New Indian, Chakroborty stated, “Yesterday, the Chief Minister made a claim that peaceful nominations of this magnitude have never been witnessed in India. This statement unequivocally exposes the government’s true intentions. Meanwhile, Bhangar is engulfed in flames, and the entire administration has been rendered impotent, merely acting as a puppet for the ruling party.”

READ MORE: Nadda, Abhishek exchange barbs ahead of Bengal Panchayat polls

In the midst of the nomination submission and scrutiny process, volatile situations have further intensified concerns about law and order in the state. Responding to the situation, BJP State President Dr. Sukanta Majumder met with West Bengal Governor Dr. C.V. Ananda Bose to apprise him of the ongoing law and order challenges. Later, the governor visited Canning in South 24 Parganas district, where two factions of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) were involved in infighting, leading to police intervention with lathi charges and teargas shells.

Another contentious issue is the deployment of central forces in all districts on July 8, as directed by the Calcutta High Court. The state election commission has challenged this directive in the Supreme Court, adding to the existing tensions. Opposition parties, including the BJP and Congress, have demanded the deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair elections.

READ MORE: Eyes on North Bengal, TMC’s Abhishek to begin yatra for panchayat polls

Chakroborty expressed his concerns about the government’s intentions, stating, “This government wants no democracy and zero opposition in the panchayat polls. But the people want to remove the TMC, and that’s where the confrontations arise.”

On his part BJP State President Sukanta Majumdar predicted increased infighting within the TMC, referring to it as a power struggle between “pishi” (aunt) and “bhaipo” (nephew), alluding to the internal dynamics within the ruling party.

In response to the situation, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with party leaders at Kalighat to discuss the panchayat polls. The meeting involved not only the Panchayat department but also ministers and selected leaders from various departments.

A TMC leader, after attending the meeting with the Chief Minister, downplayed the significance of central forces, stating, “TMC has nothing to do with central forces. What matters most is the people’s support for the TMC. The arrival and departure of forces have never been crucial for TMC.”

Meanwhile, the West Bengal State Election Commission has requested districts to provide the number of sensitive booths in preparation for the panchayat polls. The cumulative figure of nominations submitted until June 15 has exceeded two lakhs.

The upcoming panchayat elections will witness polling for nearly 75,000 seats in the three-tier Panchayati Raj system on July 8. The state of West Bengal comprises a total of 3,317 gram panchayats, with 928 seats across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat samiti seats, and 63,229 gram panchayat seats.

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