Poll violence in West Bengal: It's a challenge for election commission to conduct free and fair poll in the state which has a long and blood soaked history of political violence.
West Bengal Election 2019: Second phase of Lok Sabha election in West Bengal has brought back the horrifying memories of political violence in the state. CPM candidate and Lok Sabha member Mohammed Salim complained that his vehicle was attacked in Raiganj constituencies from where he has been contesting against Congress candidate Deepa Dasmunshi, BJP’s Deboshree Chowdhury and Trinamool’s Kanhaiya Lal Aggarwal.
Mohammad Salim had defeated Deepa Dasmunshi in a close fight in 2014 Lok Sabha election as the gap between him and Congress candidate was less than 3,000 votes. BJP’s Nimu Bhowmik was at third position and ruling TMC’s candidate Satya Ranjan Dasmunshi was at the fourth position.
However, it is nothing in comparison with the kind of violence the state had experienced in previous Lok Sabha election in 2014. According to official figures, more than 14 people were killed and over 1100 incidents of political violence were reported from the state.
Violence in the run up to 2019 Lok Sabha election
In January this year, BJP and TMC workers clashed with each other following party president Amit Shah’s rally in East Midnapore district of the state. BJP leaders blamed ruling TMC for instigating violence against it. The violent clashes prompted union home minister Rajnath Singh to write letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
A 18 year old BJP worker Trilochan Mahto was found hanging on a tree in Purulia, West Bengal in May last year. Three English letters ‘B’ ‘J’ and ‘P’ were scribbled on the back of his shirt. BJP President Amit Shah had blamed ruling TMC for the party worker’s death. The BJP said that its worker was killed as he was involved in rural body polls in Purulia, as the party did well by winning 645 Gram Panchayat seats against 839 won by the TMC in the state.
Similarly, a local BJP worker Dhormo Hazra was found dead in a pond in Murshidabad district in July last year. BJP’s West Bengal unit had blamed ruling TMC for the party worker’s death.
A BJP worker Sandip Ghosh was allegedly shot dead by a TMC worker in West Bengal’s Durgapur district in December 2018 when he was returning after attending a party meeting. BJP had blamed TMC for its worker’s killing.
Violence in the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha election
The run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election was even more soaked with blood as according to official home ministry data, the state had witnessed more than 23 political killings in 2013 in the run up to the Lok Sabha election in May 2014.
Perhaps, this was the reason that the election commission conducted 2016 assembly elections in the state in 6 phases as against single phase in Tamil Nadu.
State opposition parties, BJP and CPM, have long accused the Mamata Banerjee government of shielding the culprits linked to ruling Trinamool Congress. Opposition CPM itself had a bloody history of political violence in the state during its 34 year long rule of the state.