A DELEGATION of the state Congress on Saturday met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi to appraise him of Trinamool Congress workers “persistently intimidating and harassing” Opposition candidates for the upcoming civic bodies polls. The delegation was led by state Congress general secretary O P Mishra.
Seven municipalities — Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik in the hills and Raiganj in North Dinajpore, Domkal in Murshidabad and Pujali in South-24 Parganas — will go to polls on May 14.
“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been talking about the struggle against BJP and communal forces that have arisen in the state, but on the ground she is trying to finish off the Opposition entirely. In Raiganj, for instance, none of the Opposition parties have been able to hold a single public meeting for the elections. Five Congress candidates, and these were declared candidates, suddenly switched allegiance to the Trinamool just before the elections,” Mishra said.
“Our nominees are not being allowed to campaign in Raiganj. Anti-social elements from Bihar are being brought in to Raiganj… The situation is the same in Domkal and Pujali,” he added.
The delegation told the Governor that “all Opposition workers and candidates have been threatened by Trinamool workers”. “BJP workers have been beaten. CPM workers have been threatened. We have been attacked,” said Mishra, pointing out that the “intimidation” has been severe in the plains, as opposed to the hills, where Trinamool has little presence.
“The Governor is aware of these issues. He assured us that he will speak to the chief secretary, the DGP and the state chief election commissioner regarding the conduct of peaceful municipal elections. He also told us that he will meet the chief minister tomorrow. We have requested him to bring this issue up with her,” said Mishra.
Taking on Mamata, he added: “If Mamata Banerjee really wants to save democracy and fight communalism in the state, then why not let the Opposition work? Why not hold free and fair elections? If you cannot save democracy, how can you fight communal forces? What she says about the BJP is just rhetoric if she continues to be undemocratic herself.”
Maintaining that with the “Trinamool government intimidating the Opposition with its muscle power”, it would be difficult for any future alliance or cooperation with the ruling party. “We are cooperating as far as the presidential elections are concerned. (CPM leader) Sitaram Yechury has already spoken with Mamata Banerjee. Now, she has to decide whether she wants to continue cooperating with the BJP, directly or indirectly, or whether she wants to join hands with an Opposition that is secular… This is of course only for the presidential elections, where there is always cooperation across party lines. In these elections, Mamata must prove that she actually does stand for democracy,” said Mishra.