Elections through ballot, not bullets: WB Governor calls for peace

Governor CV Ananda Bose appeals for peace amid rising instances of violence in the West Bengal panchayat election

| Updated: 08 July, 2023 4:22 pm IST
West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose took stock of the situation

NEW DELHI: Governor CV Ananda Bose of West Bengal has called for peaceful elections amid escalating reports of violence in the ongoing panchayat polls.

Emphasising the significance of the democratic process, Governor Bose stated that elections must be conducted “through ballots, not bullets,” and declared the day as the “most sacred” for democracy.

Incidents of violence have been reported from different districts in the state, raising concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.

Earlier in the day, the Governor encountered a group of candidates from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) while en route to cast his vote in the North 24-Parganas district.

The CPI(M) candidates took the opportunity to share their concerns with the Governor regarding the prevailing violence and disruptions in the polling booths.

“I have been in the field right from the morning… People requested me and stopped my motorcade on the way. They told me about the murders happening around them, told me about the goons not allowing them to go to the polling booths… It should cause concern for all of us. This is the most sacred day for democracy… The election must be through ballots and not bullets,” Governor Bose said.

Multiple incidents of ballot box and ballot paper looting, as well as destruction, have been reported from numerous polling booths across the state, further fueling concerns about the fairness and safety of the electoral process.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of involvement in these incidents, alleging that the TMC resorts to violence, murder, and booth capturing.

BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar criticised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the state’s Chief Electoral Officer, holding them responsible for the alleged murders.

In response, West Bengal minister Shashi Panja questioned the efficacy of the central forces in protecting the citizens. Expressing disappointment, the minister highlighted the cases of TMC workers being murdered and shot at, suggesting that the central forces have failed to fulfil their role as guardians of peace.

The panchayat elections in West Bengal are currently underway, scheduled to be conducted in a single phase, with the vote counting scheduled for July 11.

The polls are expected to witness a fierce contest for control of local administrations between the ruling TMC and the BJP, serving as a litmus test for both parties ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

Approximately 5.67 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise, selecting representatives for nearly 928 seats distributed across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat samitis, and 63,239 gram panchayats. West Bengal consists of 3,341 gram panchayats, with 58,594 village panchayat election centres. The seats at different levels include 63,239 at the Gram Panchayat level, 9,730 at the Panchayat Samiti level, and 928 at the Zila Parishad level.

In the previous panchayat elections held in 2018, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) secured an uncontested victory in 34 per cent of the seats. These elections were also marred by various instances of violence. Similarly, in the 2023 elections, the Trinamool Congress won many seats uncontested, reflecting the prevailing political landscape in the state.

Also Read Story

Muslims must learn from Hindus to donate organs: MoS Baghel 

MP Elections: BJP fields 3 union ministers, Opposition calls it fear

AIUDF accuses INDIA alliance of Muslim bias, gets ‘BJP’s B Team’ label

Time to convict political conspirators, perpetrators of Sikh, Pandit killings