It is almost like having no polls at all! Trinamool Congress (TMC) has won one-third of the panchayat seats in Hooghly district, uncontested, even before polls are held here on Monday.
Hence, voters in the two administrative blocks of Khanakul in Arambag sub-division of Hooghly district will vote for only two of the 337 gram panchayat seats, none of the 70 panchayat samiti seats and only one of the six zilla parishad seats on Monday.
Even in Dhaniakhali block, chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party has won 223 of the 264 gram panchayat seats and 42 of the 52 panchayat samiti seats uncontested. Similarly, in Jangipara, the party has bagged 148 of 177 gram panchayat seats and 26 of 30 panchayat samiti seats before polling. In Arambag block too, 181 of 221 gram panchayat seats and 31 of 45 panchayat samiti seats will see no voting.
“Red terror has been replaced by green terror,” West Bengal Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya said, alluding to CPI(M)’s “tactics” now being adopted by Trinamool Congress, after it ousted the Left party from power following 34 years of its rule. “Nothing else has changed in West Bengal.” Arambag subdivision, a rural belt with a population of more than 10 lakh, has seen widespread political violence since 1998. Here again TMC has secured 730 of 924 (79%) gram panchayat seats and 134 of 185 (72%) panchayat samiti seats without contest.
Overall in Hooghly district TMC has won 38% of gram panchayat seats and 35% of panchayat samiti seats this way. “It’s more a farce than polls,” Sudarshan Roychoudhury, CPI(M) Hooghly district secretary and former higher education minister, said. “In large swathes of the district, TMC did not allow anyone to file nominations.”
It is only in Singur, a part of Hooghly district, that TMC will have to contest in all the 240 gram panchayat seats, 47 panchayat samiti seats and three zilla parishad seats.
Hooghly is one of the three districts going for the three-tier rural polls on Monday. However TMC’s uncontested record stretches to Burdwan and East Midnapore as well.