Trinamool used Ramzan as pretext for single-phase Bengal panchayat polls: BJP
Senior Trinamool leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have said over the past few days that the polling has to be completed before Ramzan begins (likely to start from May 16).Updated: Apr 27, 2018 12:20 IST
The ruling Trinamool Congress used Islam’s fasting month of Ramzan as a pretext to press for a single-phase polling in the panchayat elections and it will use the opportunity to unleash violence and record as sweeping a victory as possible, BJP leaders in West Bengal alleged on Friday.
“All the five phases of the polling in the last panchayat elections in Bengal in 2013 were held during the month of Ramzan. Panchayat polls in 1982 and 1988 were also held in the fasting month. Why will it be an issue this time?” Abdul Mannan, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, asked.
The state election commission said on Thursday that the elections to the state’s local administrative bodies will be held on May 14.
The polling process was earlier stalled after the opposition parties in the state petitioned both the Supreme Court and high court alleging widespread violence and strong-arm tactics by the ruling party throughout the nomination process between April 2 and 9 and on April 23.
The new date triggered allegations from opposition parties that the single-phase voting decision was taken to oblige the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Senior Trinamool leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have said over the past few days that the polling has to be completed before Ramzan begins (likely to start from May 16). If the elections are held on days when Muslims fast, they will be inconvenienced, both the chief minister and party secretary-general Partha Chatterjee argued.
“Scheduling the elections became centrally dependent on the point that it could not be held during the month of Ramzan, which starts on May 16. The chief minister dug in her heels with this demand. What is the logic?” the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP)’s Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh asked.
“We’ll raise the question during the campaign for the elections,” he added.
The BJP’s state general secretary Pratap Banerjee also pointed out that there are more than 58,400 booths in the state and just about 58,000 police personnel, of whom about 46,000 carry firearms and 12,000 carry canes.
“This means each booth won’t be guarded even by one policeman with a firearm. This is ridiculous,” said Banerjee.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) criticised both Trinamool and the BJP for mixing religion with politics.
“Both the parties are busy creating binaries to use polarisation to serve their political purpose. They are doing the same thing, from different angles. Trinamool is arranging the pyre for Bengal’s democracy for the BJP to light it,” Md Salim, Lok Sabha MP and CPI(M) politburo member, said.
The state government’s stand and poll body’s decision for a single day polling drew criticism from other quarters as well.
Former Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly said the elections had nothing to do with religious festivals. “It is absolutely pointless to bring Ramzan into the matter,” Ganguly said.
A non-government organisation had moved the Supreme Court in 2013 to get the elections rescheduled after the month of Ramzan but it turned down the appeal.
First Published: Apr 27, 2018 11:47 IST