Forty-eight hours after the city witnessed unbelievable scenes of violence, bloodshed and blatant rigging in the civic polls to three municipal bodies — Salt Lake-Rajarhat, Asansol and parts of Howrah — Kolkata on Monday woke to large-scale protests by nearly every section of society, pushing the ruling Trinamool Congress that perpetrated most of the mayhem on the defensive.
Several protest rallies are lined up on Tuesday as well --the Trinamool Congress, that held a dharna outside the state election commission office in protest against the decision to defer the counting will try and wrest the initiative from the opposition with a rally from College Street to rani Rashmoni Road. The opposition, too, will continue pressing for a repoll in all the municipalities.
Reporters and photographers, many of whom were thrashed mercilessly on Saturday by goons hired by Trinamool leaders, gathered at the Press Club and trooped down to Esplanade where journalists from different newspapers, TV channels and magazines took part. Later, at a meeting in front of Press Club, speakers warned the government against perpetrating such violence on its members.
Pushed on the backfoot by the growing chorus of protests against the hooliganism and police inaction, Trinamool Congress decided to go on the offensive.
In the absence of Mamata Banerjee, party secretary-general Partha Chatterjee led the charge, organising a dharna outside the EC’s office in support against the party demand to hold counting of votes on Octover 7. Chatterjee even threatened anybody seen siding with the BJP. “Those who are siding with the BJP, be it the SEC or the governor, beware,” he said.
There were more people lending their voice to the protest. Intellectuals like poet Sankha Ghosh, Dadasaheb Phalke winner Saumitra Chatterjee, filmmakers Aparna Sen and Srijit Mukherjee, retired Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly and actor Kaushik Sen issued a statement condemning the violence. Also among the signatories was former state election commissioner Mira Pande, who grabbed headline during the 2013 panchayat polls in the state because of her opposition to Mamata Banerjee’s dictates.