Alleging widespread violence and booth-capturing by Trinamool Congress workers, all major opposition parties in West Bengal demanded to countermand of elections to seven municipal bodies being held today. Representatives of Left parties and the Congress resorted to a road blockade and sit-in demonstration in front of the State Election Commission office here claiming that it had failed to conduct free and fair polls. “We want the elections to be countermanded as the ruling party has unleashed terror at all the places where elections are being held,” CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra told reporters here.
Claiming that the elections have been turned into a farce, he said, “Miscreants owing allegiance to the TMC have been terrorising everyone with guns, bombs and other weapons. Voters, candidates, their agents, police and journalists — no one has been spared.” Mishra claimed that three CPI(M) supporters were injured in firing by miscreants at Pujali in South 24-Parganas district, one of the towns where polls are being held. West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury demanded countermanding of the elections alleging booth capturing by TMC supporters.
Chowdhury said that he has instructed all 10 party candidates in Domkal not to take interest in the election as it has become a farce because of booth capturing and violence by the TMC’s goons. He alleged that Congress agents were driven out of polling booths at Domkal town in Murshidabad district by TMC activists. BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha also demanded that the elections be countermanded and fresh polls be declared by the State Election Commission. “The commission should cancel today’s elections and fresh polls be held with central forces in charge of security,” Sinha, the former state BJP chief said.
Representatives of the Congress and the Left Front went to the commission’s office in the afternoon to register their grievances. Claiming that the commission’s top officials refused to meet them, leaders and supporters of the Left parties and the Congress resorted to a road blockade and sit-in demonstration in front of the office in Kolkata. “The commission had assured us that steps will be taken to ensure free and fair polls, but it has failed miserably,” Mishra said. Of the seven municipal bodies where the elections are being held, four are in Darjeeling hills.
The Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is the main opponent of the TMC in Darjeeling, Mirik, Kalimpong and Kurseong, where the ruling party has campaigned extensively with several senior ministers participating actively. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who frequently visits Darjeeling, has taken a keen interest in the municipal polls in the hills, which has for long seen dominance of hill parties — the
Subash Ghising-led Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) followed by Gurung’s GJM. Raiganj in North-Dinajpur district, Domkal in Murshidabad and Pujali in South 24-Parganas in the plains are having a three-way contest with the Left-Congress combine, the BJP and the TMC being in contention.