West Bengal panchayat polls: At a time when opposition parties are rallying for unity ahead of the 2019 elections, the West Bengal unit of the Congress party finds itself in a predicament that it may have difficulty explaining.
West Bengal panchayat polls: At a time when opposition parties are rallying for unity ahead of the 2019 elections, the West Bengal unit of the Congress party finds itself in a predicament that it may have difficulty explaining. Fissures within Congress party have come to the fore, thanks to an ongoing duel between Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. The situation has worsened to a such an extent that Singhvi was shown black flags at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. Anandbazar Patrika reported that a shoe was also hurled at him while he was in Kolkata to attend a private event.
However, Singhvi escaped unhurt and denied that he was shown black flags, according to the Telegraph. Around 25 Congress workers were arrested after the incident, police officials were quoted as saying by PTI. Things heated up after Singhvi chose to defend the Mamata Banerjee government in Supreme Court against BJP even as Chowdhury had filed a plea against the ruling Trinamool dispensation in the Calcutta High Court.
Here are the top developments:
It has been learnt that Singhvi had represented the West Bengal government at the Supreme Court during the hearing of a petition filed by the BJP. BJP had filed the plea seeking deployment of central forces for the panchayat polls.
Supreme Court on Monday said that it won’t interfere in West Bengal BJP’s petition for seeking deployment of CRPF, availability of online application and other demands over Panchayat polls. The apex court, however, asked BJP to approach the state election commission, which is conducting the rural body polls.
Notably, Chowdhury had also moved the Calcutta High Court seeking deployment of central paramilitary forces in the state to ensure a free-and-fair panchayat election. This fell contrary to Singhvi’s stand in the court favouring the West Bengal government, causing embarrassment to the party’s state unit.
According to reports, Chowdhury had raised the issue with Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya has even advised Singhvi to consult state leadership before taking up such cases. Senior state Congress MLA and leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Abdul Mannan reportedly cancelled a meeting between Singhvi and Congress legislature party.
Singhvi said his arguments in court were based on facts and figures provided by the chief secretary and home secretary of West Bengal. “I was appearing against the BJP and the Congress is not a party to the petition. No one knew that the Congress had also moved a petition at the same time in the Calcutta High Court. I discovered it when someone pointed it out in the court. I think there was a lack of communication,” he said.
Reports of clashes during the filing of nominations for the upcoming Panchayat elections have made headlines. The opposition parties in the state have alleged attacks and intimidations by the ruling TMC workers to prevent them from filing nominations for the election. The panchayat polls will be held in three phases in West Bengal — on May 1, 3 and 5.
It was reported that BJP had tried to woo Chowdhury last year. West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh had said that a big leader like Chowdhury would be accepted and welcomed in the party if he was willing to join the saffron ranks.