Incidents of sporadic violence and arson marked Sunday’s elections in seven municipal bodies of West Bengal, with opposition parties accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress of turning the poll process into a farce by resorting to large scale “hooliganism and rigging”.
The Trinamool, however, claimed the election was “free and fair” but the opposition demanded repoll in a number of municipal bodies by deploying central forces.
The municipalities that went to polls on Sunday ware Panskura and Haldia in East Midnapore district, Nalhati in Birbhum, Buniadpur in South Dinajpur and Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri districts. Durgapur Municipal Corporation in Burdwan West and Cooper’s Camp Notified Authority in Nadia district were the two other urban local bodies where the election was held.
Most reports of violence came from Durgapur Municipal Corporation where opposing groups clashed since morning, allegedly hurling bombs and each other. Several vehicles including those belonging to police were vandalised and at least three bikes were torched by the miscreants during the clash.
Police and miscreants also clashed in Panskura.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh demanded re-election in at least three municipal bodies under the surveillance of central forces.
“There has been widespread violence since morning in the municipalities like Durgapur, Panskura and Haldia. The Trinamool Congress backed miscreants have terrorised people with guns and bombs. There should be fresh election in these places after the deployment of central force,” Ghosh claimed.
Echoing the BJP, the Left Front accused the state administration, police and election commission of not taking adequate steps against the alleged violence and rigging, and demanded re-election at certain places.
“The state administration, police and the election commission have not only failed to conduct a proper election but also refrained from taking any steps against the constant violence, planned looting of votes and vandalism by the Trinamool Congress,” said CPI-M politburo member and MP Mohammad Salim.
“We want this election to be cancelled and demand fresh election be conducted at certain places. If the EC fails to take such steps, we will take legal recourse,” he said.
The Congress withdrew their seven candidates from Durgapur Municipal Corporation charging Trinamool with terrorising the voters and attacking their party activists.
State Sports Minister and Trinamool leader Arup Biswas, however, claimed that the election was peaceful and spontaneous at most places, except a few incidents of unrest.
“The election has been largely peaceful. People are with us. The BJP has brought in several outsiders from Jharkhand to create tension,” he alleged.
The results will be declared on August 17.