Kolkata: Cutting across ideological lines, all parties in West Bengal on Saturday condemned the killing of 11 people in various districts as voting for the panchayat elections is underway, while the opposition BJP called for President's Rule in the state.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, which lost six of its supporters to poll violence, accused the opposition of instigating violence and criticised the central forces for their failure to protect the voters.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury, on the other hand, alleged that TMC goons are having a free run and people's mandate has been looted.
Chowdhury said, "The ruling party's incoherence with the police administrations...has unleashed a rain of terror in an unprecedented way, which has taken a toll on 26 people and hundreds of people are fatally injured have been admitted to the hospital already. The political and electoral environment in Bengal has been of violence...It is a travesty of panchayat elections and virtually it is an example of electoral depredations..."
CPI(M): central force not properly mobilised
The CPI(M)'s West Bengal secretary Md Salim claimed that the central force was not properly mobilised.
Among those killed since midnight were six TMC members, and one worker each of the BJP, CPI(M), Congress and the ISF, and another person whose political identity could not be known.
Senior state minister Sashi Panja said, "Shocking incidents are being reported since last night. BJP, CPI(M) and Congress had colluded, demanding central forces. Where are they deployed? TMC workers are being murdered. Where are the central forces?" In a statement, the TMC said 27 people were killed since the panchayat elections were announced on June 8 and 17 of them are from Trinamool, which is over 60 per cent of the total fatalities.
"If Trinamool were indeed instigating violence, as the media is alleging, why would their own workers be targeted and killed? The Opposition has conceded defeat and is now attempting to shape the narrative around how violence affected the election, utilising their allies in the media," it said.
60 booths witnesses disruption
Across West Bengal, there are more than 60,000 booths but only 60-odd booths have witnessed disruption during the polling process, the statement said adding not that a single incident of violence has been reported.
Leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP, demanded that President's Rule be imposed in the state.
"A free and fair election under the state administration is a mirage. It is only possible only if elections are held under President's Rule or Article 355," he said.
Art 355 of the Constitution states that it is the duty of the Union to protect the states from internal disturbances and external aggression.
SEC working as per TMC: BJP
BJP leader Rahul Sinha claimed that the SEC is working as per the direction of the state's Trinamool Congress government and it has failed to discharge its duties totally.
"This is evident from the way they are conducting the polling today. At several booths, there are no central forces, while the state police are also absent in a few. I have got photographs as well as videos where CCTVs were not connected to wires even. This actually helped the miscreants carry out violence," he said.
CPI(M) state secretary Md Salim said, "The central force was not properly mobilised in spite of the high court order and it was a goof up between central and state forces." Ultimately, it is the people who have been suffering, he said.
"There is rampant usage of arms and the ruling Trinamool Congress is behind all these incidents. They had planned it well in advance to create disturbances on the polling day and loot votes. But I am happy to see that in some places, people have put up resistance," senior CPI(M) leader Dr Sujan Chakraborty told PTI.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the election has turned into a farce as the "TMC goons are having a free run, and people's mandate has been looted."
(with agency inputs)