BJP, Congress move courts for ‘free, fair’ Bengal rural polls
Trinamool leaders met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and the state Election Commissioner A K Singh over what they said were ‘falsehoods’ spread by opposition parties.india Updated: Apr 05, 2018 21:50 IST
The BJP and the Congress on Thursday filed separate court petitions seeking deployment of central forces to ensure free and fair rural polls in West Bengal as violence rocked several districts of the Trinamool-ruled state in the run-up to next month’s elections.
Trinamool leaders met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and the state Election Commissioner A K Singh over what they said were “falsehoods” spread by opposition parties.
The panchayat polls — on May 1, 3 and 5 — are being seen as a test of strength for the Trinamool and opposition BJP and Congress ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Counting of votes will take place on May 8.
In Delhi, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra agreed to hear on Friday a petition filed by the BJP.
Advocate Aishwarya Bhati said there was an emergency in the matter and sought an early hearing. She pointed out that nomination closes on April 9.
In Calcutta, the Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the party has filed a filed a petition in the Calcutta high court “seeking directions on the administration to ensure free and peaceful elections”.
“We will make our submissions on Friday,” he added. The court will hear the petition on Friday.
Till Thursday afternoon, 5,649 candidates from the Trinamool Congress filed nominations while the combined number from the opposition stood at 6,648, a figure that party secretary general Partha Chatterjee highlighted to refute allegations of intimidation by their supporters.
“More BJP candidates have filed nominations than those from the ruling party. At the zilla parishad level, BJP candidates have filed more nominations than us. We have told the state election commissioner that the opposition leaders are trying to keep his office under pressure,” Chatterjee told reporters.
In the afternoon, Chatterjee led a delegation of Trinamool MPs and ministers to the governor’s house and emerged to say that they informed the governor of the “falsehoods BJP, CPI-M and Congress are spreading.”
“The administration and police are working efficiency ,” said Chatterjee.
BJP leaders had met the governor on Wednesday while state Congress leaders met him a day earlier.
Meanwhile, incidents of violence were reported from several districts of the state.
Seven-time CPI(M) Lok Sabha MP from Birbhum district, Ramchandra Dom, claimed that he suffered head injuries by stones thrown by Trinamool-backed criminals during a at Left rally. Dom was at the front of the rally in Nalhati in Birbhum district.
Police, however, registered an FIR against Dom for leading a procession where participants were carrying bows and arrows. “These are traditional weapons carried by tribals just as Sikhs carry kirpans,” Dom said.
The brother of a BJP candidate Ajit Murmu, 35, who was killed in Bankura district on Wednesday, alleged that he was killed in a fight between factions of BJP.
“There was factionalism. He was killed by a BJP faction,” Asit Murmu told the media, a day after BJP leaders blamed Trinamool workers for the death.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, however, said “Asit Murmu was forced by TMC to make this false allegation”.
In Lalbag and Hariharpara of Murshidabad, ruling party supporters clashed with Left and Congress supporters.
Police arrested 30 people at Hariharpara.
Incidents of violence were also reported from districts such as Jalpaiguri, West Midnapore and North Dinajpur. In Chopra of North Dinajpur, police and RAF personnel were deployed after tension over submission of nomination. “Such violence was never witnessed in rural polls in Bengal,” said Left Front chairman Biman Bose.
BJP leaders would demonstrate near the Gandhi statue on Friday noon to protest against the violence.
Leaders of both the CPI(M) and BJP alleged that the violence in the nomination phase was designed to win as many seats without contests as possible.
The opposition parties have pointed out that six days have been earmarked for withdrawal of nomination. “It is unusually long. The ruling party will utilise the period to intimidate opposition candidates forcing them to withdraw,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh had alleged.
In 2013, the Supreme Court had allowed deployment of central forces for the first time in Bengal rural polls.