Kolkata: Three people were killed and hundreds injured on Monday, during the second phase of polling for the West Bengal panchayat (village council) elections.
Mohammad Shaikh Hasmat, husband of Manohara Bibi, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate for the Madhudanga gram panchayat in Burdwan, was killed when bombs were hurled at him at a polling booth on Monday morning. Moments later, villagers caught hold of one of the attackers, Raj Kumar Khora — a Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporter — and allegedly lynched him to death with sharp weapons in full view of state armed policemen who did nothing to stop them. Central forces were later sent to the area. In another incident, CPI-M candidate for Panuria gram panchayat Siddhartha Banerjee was injured when he was beaten up in his locality.
Another TMC supporter was killed in a clash with supporters of an independent candidate at Nowpara in Burdwan.
In the second phase of five-phase elections, polling was done for the 12,869 seats in rural bodies spread over three districts — Hooghly, East Midnapore and Burdwan. While 9,525,320 voters were eligible to choose their representatives in the three districts covering 10,637 gram panchayats (village council), 2,047 panchayat samities (a committee of 10 village councils) and 185 zilla parishad (district council) seats, all eyes were on Singur in Hooghly and Nandigram in East Midnapore — which gained national and international prominence for the intense protests against farmland acquisition that caused the ouster of the 34-year-long Left Front government and thrust TMC chief Mamata Banerjee to the chief minister’s chair.
However, TMC has won one-third of the panchayat seats in Hooghly district, uncontested, even before polls are held here on Monday. Even in Dhaniakhali block, Banerjee’s party has won 223 of the 264 gram panchayat seats and 42 of the 52 panchayat samiti seats uncontested. Similarly, in Jangipara, the party has bagged 148 of 177 gram panchayat seats and 26 of 30 panchayat samiti seats before polling. In Arambag block too, 181 of 221 gram panchayat seats and 31 of 45 panchayat samiti seats will see no voting.
“Red terror has been replaced by green terror,” state Congress leader Manas Bhunia alleged. “Nothing has changed in Bengal as TMC has adopted similar ways of the CPI-M in subjugating democracy. Twelve people had been killed during filling of nomination; three had been killed in the second phase. Central forces had not been used in most of the regions and were sitting idle as the district administration did not allowing them to operate,” added Bhuian.
It’s more a farce than polls. In large number of seats in the district, TMC did not allow anyone to file nominations.” Sudarshan Roychoudhury, CPI (M) Hooghly district secretary and former higher education minister, said.