Violence Erupts in West Bengal as Panchayat Election Nominations Turn Deadly
16 June, 2023 | Priyanka Sharma
Electoral violence broke out in West Bengal over the submission of nominations for the forthcoming Panchayat Elections, resulting in at least three fatalities and numerous injuries. The deadline fo...
Electoral violence broke out in West Bengal over the submission of nominations for the forthcoming Panchayat Elections, resulting in at least three fatalities and numerous injuries. The deadline for submitting nomination papers was Thursday. Violence was reportedly witnessed in Bhangar, South 24 Pargana, and Chopra, North Dinajpur.
Following the violence on Thursday, the Calcutta High Court ordered the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) to request the deployment of forces from the Centre within 48 hours. The HC further stated that the SEC had not taken any “appreciable steps” in response to its June 13 decision designating critical locations and deploying central forces.
Following a dispute between Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Indian Secular Front (ISF) activists in Bhangar, West Bengal, on Tuesday, June 13, the police were attacked with bombs and stones. Each side has laid the blame on the other. This is the most recent in a string of violent incidents that have occurred in West Bengal since the state’s Panchayat elections were declared on June 9. The requisition and deployment of central forces for the elections were mandated by the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday.
A record in the history of the Bengal Panchayat elections was set in 2018 when TMC won more than 95% of the gram panchayats, with 34% of the seats going uncontested. Additionally, the opposition claimed they were prohibited from making nominations. The TMC had come under fire for claims of widespread violence and election tampering. Additionally, the police’s function was questioned.
The BJP won 18 parliamentary seats in West Bengal, which was its highest Lok Sabha showing ever, hurting the ruling party’s performance in the elections the following year, in 2019. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was given the cases after the Calcutta State Assembly elections in 2021 since the TMC was once more accused of using violence against BJP activists.
The BJP left, Congress, and ISF fiercely objected to the electoral violence on Thursday and even organized a demonstration outside the Election Commission building. Suvendu Adhikari, BJP head of West Bengal, blasted the state’s ruling TMC on Twitter for the violence there, writing that “Celebration of Democracy has been turned into ‘funeral of democracy’ by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.” Bengal is in pain. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her pawn, State Election Commissioner Rajiv Sinha, have transformed “Celebration of Democracy” into “Funeral of Democracy,” Adhikari tweeted.