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There may be violence again on new day of nomination, apprehend Bengal opposition leaders

As things stood on April 9, ruling Trinamool Congress won two zilla parishads without contest and opposition leaders alleged as many as 27% of the 48,650 gram panchayat seats in the state recorded single nomination. Those numbers may change now.

kolkata Updated: Apr 21, 2018 11:31 IST
SEC,Rural Polls,Trinamool Congress
File picture of BJP workers agitating in front of the State Election Commission office in Kolkata.(HT Photo)

Their first battle won on Friday with Calcutta high court directing State Election Commission (SEC) to extend date of submission of nomination papers by a day, Bengal’s opposition leaders expressed the apprehension that there may be repeat of the violence, witnessed throughout the nomination period between April 2 and 9, on the new date the poll panel would announce.

“We are apprehensive of further violence on the new date of the nomination. Violence may be unleashed both on the day of nomination as well as on the days preceding it to intimidate opposition candidates,” said BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

Read: Amit Shah’s strategy: BJP treating Bengal rural polls as ‘quarter-final match’ before 2021 assembly election

“We have about 10,000 nominations ready for filing on the additional day. We’ll try our best, but are not sure how many of the candidates will ultimately manage to brave the ruling party’s muscle,” Ghosh said.

Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the Left legislative party in the Assembly, echoed Ghosh. “The government vehemently opposed in the court our appeal for central paramilitary forces since they have the sinister plan of using the police to fulfil its purpose. We anticipate violence on the day of nomination and even on the days leading to it,” Chakraborty said.

“We welcome the court’s order. But unfortunately the order does not mean that the ruling party will not indulge in violence once again to stop opposition candidates. There will be another day of nomination and another day of violence the likes of which we have seen between April 2 and April 9,” said state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Read: Man who lost wife in 2013 Bengal poll violence campaigns for peace

The leaders also said intimidation will continue during the period of withdrawal of nomination.

It is due to this fear that all opposition parties, including BJP, CPI(M) and Congress, demanded before the court that online submission of nomination papers be allowed. The court rejected this plea.

Earlier, the SEC ruled that nominations could be submitted to the sub-divisional offices instead of block development offices. SDO offices are preferred over BDO offices because these are generally located in towns.

Opposition leaders earlier alleged that as many as 27% (13,197) of the total 48,650 gram panchayat seats in the state recorded single nomination, ensuring uncontested victory for ruling party candidates.

Read: Bengal panchayat poll nomination extended by a day, voting dates may change

This is a leap from earlier years. In 2003 rural polls, the Left Front won about 11% of seats uncontested, while in 2013, Trinamool Congress won about 10.5% seats without contest.

After the last date of nomination (earlier schedule) it became clear that Trinamool Congress won two zilla parishads (districts councils), Birbhum and Bankura, without contest.

This data is now likely to change as opposition parties will now get a fresh opportunity to field its candidates.

Six lives were lost and about a hundred suffered injuries in violence during the period of submission of nomination papers.

First Published: Apr 21, 2018 11:31 IST