Kolkata – West Bengal civic polls that were held on Sunday were marred by violence and angry protests amidst allegations by the opposition of rigged elections. Clashes resulted in the death of two congress sympathisers, and one supporter being left critically injured in Murshidabad district during the polls held in three municipal bodies. There were reports of bombs being hurled at Salt Lake ward 41 and of masked men roaming on bikes with firearms and other weapons. The opposition parties alleged that “outsiders” in large numbers were brought in to intimidate voters.
The deceased were identified as Futkar Mondal, 27 and Incadul Mondal, 26 who were killed when bombs were hurled by alleged Trinamool Congress Supporters (TMC). The incident occurred in Murshidabad district where polls were being held for the Gram Panchayat of Patharghata. Khaju Mondal, 25 who sustained severe injuries in the unfortunate attack was taken immediately to Murshidabad Medical College. Congress spokesperson Ashoke Das alleged that TMC supporters were behind the attack and demanded that strict action be taken against them.
Reports of violence in Asansol Municipal Corporation were also received. CPI(M) leader Bangsagopal Chowdhury claimed polling booths were hijacked by supporters of Trinamool Congress and that police was taking no action against them, merely playing the role of mute spectators. BJP candidate Mitali Mitra of ward 30 Salt Lake also made similar allegations of booth capturing by “thugs” of the ruling party. The violence resulted in Congress withdrawing its candidate from Bidhannagar ward 29 claiming the ruling party was using violence to mar the elections and reduce them to a joke. Arunava Ghosh, prominent lawyer and leader of the Congress party stated that they would go to the courts if necessary. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury blasted the ruling party blaming them for the violence and called for fresh elections. He termed the violence as “murder of democracy,” where even free press is constantly attacked.
There were no reports of violence in Howrah Municipal elections and Siliguri area. Municipal polling in West Bengal assumed major political significance after opposition parties like BJP, Congress and the Left tried to band together and put aside their differences to defeat the TMC. Meanwhile, the TMC has tried to woo voters in order to continue its streak of winning polls ahead of the assembly elections to be held next year.