W. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee denies all claims of violence against TMC in Panchayat polls

Panchayat Polls. Image credit: Video grab

Kolkata/IBNS: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has denied allegations of violence to block Opposition candidates from filing nomination papers in the Panchayat polls.

Without naming anyone, the Trinamool Congress chief slammed the CPI (M) and BJP, accusing them of maligning West Bengal’s image for some incidents in only three areas of the state.

“TMC is not involved in any way with these incidents. We have issued strict instructions to our party workers against any kind of violence,” she asserted.

“This time over a lakh nomination papers have been submitted, which is unprecedented not only for West Bengal Panchayat polls but other states, too,” Banerjee said.

“Only three areas have reported some incidents. I am deeply disappointed as the Opposition is hell-bent on painting a false picture as if the entire state is burning. Out of 73,000 or so votes, only three places witnessed some violence, and that, too, because of their personal animosities,” she told reporters.

Banerjee said she has asked the police and the administration of the tense areas to crack down on perpetrators.

“We haven’t given election tickets to those who previously engaged in violence. People came to us seeking tickets even till yesterday. We have been selective and cautious in choosing candidates,” she said.

Mamata Banerjee attributed the incidents of violence to the personal disputes of the candidates.

“You see, sometimes there are four candidates contesting the Panchayat elections in one household. Close relations like father-son, uncle-nephew, and brothers end up being opponents. This is the problem,” she said.

Training guns at CPI (M) which has been accusing TMC of attacks on its candidates, Banerjee said 36 people were killed in 2003 on the day of election when the Let Front government ruled the state. In 2008, around the same number of people were killed, she added.

In 2013, the state election commissioner had deployed central forces, even then 39 people were killed.

TMC is not involved with the incidents in Islampur and Chopra, she claimed reiterating that previous candidates with a history of violence and wrongdoing have been denied tickets.

She, however, said that TMC did act in retaliation in Bhangar in the South 24 Parganas district.

“The party which has recently come to power in Bhangar gathered people and incited violence. Muslims are my brothers but some people can use them for their own means. Yesterday, my party protested against the arson and vandalism caused by the party in power there,” she stated.

In the 2021 elections, Nawsad Siddique of ISF defeated his nearest rival Rezaul Karim of TMC.

In a veiled attack, Banerjee also came down heavily on BJP. “The party that couldn’t give justice to wrestlers and couldn’t bring POCSO charges on the culprit is talking about injustice in Bengal.”