WB panchayat elections: death toll climbs to 12 in poll violence as TMC, Oppn exchange blametext_fields
Kolkata: Widespread violence marred the crucial three-tier Panchayat elections in West Bengal, resulting in the death of at least twelve people.
Polling booths were vandalised and ballot papers were set on fire at several places while people queued up to vote for the polls, which serve as a litmus test for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
All political parties in West Bengal, regardless of their ideological affiliations, condemned the violence in various districts during the ongoing voting process.
The blame game ensued between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the opposition parties, including the BJP, Congress, and CPI (M) with the BJP calling for imposition of President's Rule in the state.
The Trinamool Congress, which lost six of its supporters to poll violence, accused the opposition of instigating violence. They also criticised the central forces for their failure to ensure the protection of voters.
“@BJP4India, @CPIM_WESTBENGAL and @INCWestBengal must be enjoying their front-row seats in this theatre of death and mass destruction. The tragic deaths of two of our party workers in Basanti and Katwa highlight the incompetence of Central Forces who have been nothing but mute spectators. Is this how you celebrate democracy?” the party wrote on Twitter.
As the polling commenced at 7 am today, three Trinamool Congress workers were allegedly killed in separate incidents Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda district. A BJP polling agent was allegedly killed in Cooch Behar.
A CPI(M) worker who was critically injured last evening in East Burdwan district, succumbed to his wounds in a hospital this morning. Another supporter of an independent candidate was allegedly injured in a clash in Kadambagachi of North 24 Parganas.
His family claimed that the man was beaten to death. However, Barasat district police SP Bhaskar Mukherjee said that he is critical and is under treatment at a hospital, reported The Indian Express.
West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose met people in various districts to take stock of the situation. Condemning the violent incidents, he said: “It should cause concern to all of us. This is the most sacred day for democracy… Election must be through ballots and not bullets…”, reported The Indian Express.
Amid reports claiming the absence of Central forces at some polling booths, State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha sought details on the number and the position of the personnel from all the district magistrates.
"This is not an election...It's a 'jungle raj...the freedom fighters in 1942 declared India free on this land and today this land is in turmoil because of Mamata Banerjee & her nephew with the connivance of West Bengal Police. Central government should take the decision...it's my demand, if President's rule is not there let Mamata Banerjee be the CM...we will remove her after contesting in elections but Article 355 should be implemented for the safety of the citizens...": West Bengal LoP & BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said, reported The Indian Express.