Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, is headed towards registering a landslide victory in the ongoing West Bengal Panchayat polls, largely helped by TMC led violence. TMC has already registered the victory on 29,585 seats in the Gram Panchayat elections, 3315 seats in Panchayat samiti and 203 seats in Zila Parishads. BJP has emerged as the second largest party. BJP has secured victory on 5,636 seats and leading in 21 seats. The BJP is now the principal opposition party despite undemocratic means adopted by TMC government during the polls which resulted in large-scale violence. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been reduced to the third position from the second spot it had occupied in the last West Bengal panchayat polls in 2013. As per the latest information, CPI (M) won 1,118 gram panchayat seats and is leading in another 10. It is struggling to stay relevant in a state where it ruled for 34 Years. By winning 634 gram panchayat seats, the Congress party occupied the fourth position.
Reacting to her party’s ‘spectacular performance’ in the panchayat polls, jubilant West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said, “TMC has emerged victorious in 90 per cent seats despite the opposition parties coming together. This shows how strong we are at the grass-root level.”
The voting took place for 621 zila parishads, more than six thousand panchayat samitis and about 31 thousand gram panchayats. The zila parishads include Alipurduar, Bankura, Burdwan, Birbhum, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Dakshin Dinajpur, Howrah, Hooghly, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24-Parganas, Paschim Medinipur, Paschim Burdwan, Purba Medinipur, Purulia, South 24-Parganas, Uttar Dinajpur, Siliguri MP, Kolkata-North and Kolkata-South.
TMC victory is not a cause for celebration as the West Bengal Panchayat polls were marred with violence. Twelve persons died and over 40 were injured after 43 clashes took place between the candidates of contesting parties, mostly at the instigation of TMC goons. Several media reports of looting ballot boxes, booth capturing, stamping ballot papers inside counting hall, bombing, killing, clash, violence, political murders have surfaced. Thirty-four percent of the Panchayat seats went uncontested. Mainly because people were afraid to stand against TMC goons and anyone who dared to stand against these goons were threatened, attacked or killed. There were reports that the TMC cadres prevented BJP candidates from filing nominations for the panchayat elections. Because of the violent clashes, EC ordered re-polling in 572 booths. Clashes and violence continued unabated even on the counting day.
Even After so much open hooliganism and violence perpetrated by her party workers to win the panchayat polls, it is quite appalling to see Mamta Banerjee behaving as if she doesn’t know anything and crediting the victory to the popularity of her party. But the truth is that her party won 90% of seats not because they are strong at grassroots level but because fear and violence of her party workers spread to the grassroots level. People are afraid of her party workers. West Bengal elections are similar to what happens in Russia, China or any other middle-east monarchy government where elections are held in the name only with little to no choice on the part of the citizen. The entire election process has been nothing but a sham and a blot on the democratic principles enshrined in India’s constitution.
Mamata Banerjee government attracted lots of criticism from every corner for unfair conduct of Panchayat polls. PM Modi also commented on the violence during his speech, “Democracy is under severe threat in West Bengal and the photos and news which have surfaced from West Bengal prove the points.” He also added, “The scenes from the Panchayat Elections in West Bengal. It was nothing but a murder of democracy. From the nomination stage to the day of polling, where was the spirit of democracy? People were bullied.”
Mamata Banerjee, instead of doing introspection, ended up in indulging in blame game. During her speech, she stated,”BJP workers did not lose lives in the violence. Trinamool workers did. The PM of the country does not obey his words. He forgets his constitutional position and is making comments on the state’s law and order.”
What is most shocking in all this is the stoic silence maintained by Bengali intelligentsia. Their silence can only be meant as approval to the violence, barbaric, inhuman acts carried out by TMC to win the elections. This election violence is hurting the sentiments of the people across the nation and it is also harming the democratic ethos of the largest democracy of the world. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and the TMC goons under her patronage must be questioned and held accountable for the violence in the stat