A DAY after the State Election Commission issued notification for three-phase panchayat polls beginning May 1, incidents of violence were reported from Birbhum, Murshidabad, Hooghly and Bankura on Tuesday, with the BJP accusing the ruling Trinamool Congress of attacking its workers in order to prevent its candidates from filing nominations.
At Suri in Birbhum, BJP district general secretary Kalosona Mondal claimed Trinamool workers attacked him with a knife when he had gone to the district magistrate’s office to submit a deputation against the ruling party. According to reports, Mondal, along with other BJP leaders, were attacked when they were coming out of the DM’s office. Mondal, who was injured on his lower back, was taken to the Suri District Hospital.
“How were Trinamool workers allowed to enter a government premise with sharp weapons? Moreover, they attacked us in the presence of the police,” said local BJP leader Surajit Ghosh.
At Lalbagh in Murshidabad, BJP district president Gouri Shankar Ghosh was allegedly beaten up with sticks when he took his party candidates to file nomination papers at the BDO office. Ghosh said he was beaten up with wickets and sticks and driven out of the area. “The police were mute spectators when Trinamool-backed goons started attacking us. They chased us till a railway station and I somehow managed to flee from the area,” he said at the Lalbagh Sub-Divisional Hospital, where he is being treated.
In Hooghly district’s Arambagh area, BJP candidate Bilash Laxman claimed he was severely beaten up and driven out of the SDO office by Trinamool workers. “I was thrashed in front of the deputy magistrate, who was present at the SDO office. They drove me out,” Laxman said.
In Bankura’s Onda, BJP and Trinamool workers allegedly clashed over filing of nomination papers. Police said four Trinamool workers were injured.
When contacted, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh threatened to retaliate and send “people to crematoriums”.
“We know very well that poll violence will continue till April 9 (last day of filing nomination). After that, Trinamool will try to intimidate our candidates and force them to withdraw nominations. But BJP will continue to fight and put up resistance… We have started beating them up in some places and if needed, will continue to retaliate.”
“In every panchayat election, around 70 to 100 people are sent to crematoriums. This time will be no exception. We will definitely retaliate,” he added.
Minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee, meanwhile, claimed BJP is afraid of facing the election.
“They are scared, as they know they have no chance of winning. They have lost faith in democracy. We have seen how police in BJP-ruled states killed people during Dalit protests (on Monday). So, they should not speak about violence. They are just playing to the gallery… The Election Commission and the administration will look into the allegations of violence…”
On Ghosh’s threat to retaliate, Chatterjee said: “These are empty words. They are either playing the communal card or creating trouble in the state. These are empty threats and they know very well that the people of the state are not with them.”