The violence that marred the municipal elections in Bidhannagar and Asansol on October 3 was nothing less than a misstep by the ruling All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal.
With assembly elections around the corner (they are likely to take place in May next year), many saw the municipal elections as a precursor to the state polls. Literally there is no anti-incumbency in the constituencies that went to the polls on Saturday and voters tilting toward the ruling party also placed Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in a strong position to bring home another victory.
Then TMC hooligans and henchmen descended on polling booths, attacked and abused voters and the media alike.
After Sunday’s decision to put on hold the counting, the state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhyay announced that a repoll will be conducted in all affected polling booths on October 8.
For Mamata, the violence is a major setback, seemingly turning the tide against her and shining the spotlight on the Trinamool’s political insecurities. Shocked voters in upmarket Salt Lake, including senior citizens who had been roughed up Trinamool goons, demanded that the vote be cancelled, saying they had not witnessed such violence even at the height of CPM rule.
The polling day violence has brought together strange bedfellows with the CPM, Congress and the BJP sharing the same platform of protest against the Trinamool Congress. Senior CPM leaders have said that the Trinamool Congress must now be removed at all costs – irrespective of whether the Congress, BJP or Left wins the assembly polls.
Kolkata’s intellectuals – filmmakers, litterateurs, academics — too have decried the violence and condemned the Trinamool of misrule and undemocratic practices. Citizens have said that they are tired of the high handed ways and misdemeanors of the present ruling party.
Thus, the October 3 violence has made Banerjee’s battle to regain the confidence of her voters across the state and retain power that much more difficult.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines