After a protracted court battle in the Kolkata High Court and a series of incidents of violence, the much awaited West Bengal panchayat polls are currently underway amid tight security. According to a report, the voting began at 7am and will continue till 5pm. These rural elections will be held in 621 zilla parishads and 6157 panchayat samitis, besides in 31,827 gram panchayats, spread across 20 districts. Moreover, as many as 9,000 Kolkata police personnel have been deployed for the rural elections by the state government.
The All India Trinamool Congress, which controls 90% of the Panchayat seats, apart from all the zila parishads of the state have stopped voters from entering booths. Amid tight security, a bomb was also hurled at a booth located in Cooch Behar and 20 people sustained injuries in clashes that broke out between 2 political groups in the region. The residents have alleged that they were attacked by TMC workers when they went to the polling booth to cast their booth. The voters later on lodged a police complaint. Violence was reported in Burdwan districts too. The opposition CPI(M) and BJP had accused the TMC of terrorising voters and hurling bombs outside polling stations.
Speaking to media on Monday, Left Front chairman Biman Bose had earlier said that the single-phase panchayat election in West Bengal would result in ‘bloodbath’. “If panchayat polls are held on May 14 and in a single-phase then I feel that the people of the state will witness a historic election because it will result in a bloodbath. It may be recalled that blood was spilled in the state during filing of nominations and we have apprehension that such incidents will be repeated on the polling day. At least steps should have been taken to stop this kind of election”, he said.
As per IANS, pre-poll surveys have predicted that the rural elections will provide an emphatic answer to the questions, with the BJP predicted to leave the Left Front and the Congress far behind and emerge as the main rival to the Trinamool — which, the surveys claims, would walk away with the bulk of the seats at all three levels — panchayat, panchayat samiti and the zila parishad.