oppn parties Panchayat Elections In Bengal: Violence Continues

News Snippets

  • The Army conducts an operational alert exercise in eastern Ladakh
  • The IAF reopened the Vijaynagar advance landing ground, an airstrip in Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese border
  • Amit Shah says he never sought to impose Hindi
  • Government bans the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in India
  • Mamata Banerjee seeks an appointment with Home Minister Amit Shah today
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee meets PM Modi in what she later described as a government-to-government meeting
  • Supreme Court sets a deadline of October 18 for completing the hearings in the Ayodhya case
  • Pakistan rejects India's request for use of its airspace when PM Modi flies to the US later this week
  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says PoK in Indian territory and the country hopes to have physical jurisdiction over it one day
  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
oppn parties
Panchayat Elections In Bengal: Violence Continues

By A Special Correspondent

The upcoming panchayat elections in West Bengal (voting is tomorrow, May 14) have been in the news for wrong reasons. First, the electoral process got embroiled in controversy when it came to be known that too many seats were going to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) uncontested, with even the Supreme Court raising question marks on this aspect. Then, violence broke out on a large scale in the districts and panchayat areas just outside Kolkata. TMC wants to win these elections at any cost and unleashed its goons on candidates of other parties and independents to prevent them from filing nominations. Then the state election commission first extended the nomination filing process but then withdrew it, allegedly after pressure from the state government. This resulted in a spate of court cases after which the elections are now going to be held.

But the violence continues unabated. Just two days ago, a person was killed in Bhangar just 30 kms from Kolkata. The area has been in the grip of a turf war between locals who, under the aegis of Save Land Livelihood Environment Protection Committee (SLLEPC), are protesting against a sub-station coming up there and local tough Arabul Islam who was expelled from the TMC but, as the locals allege, was readmitted ‘unofficially’ in 2016. Member of TMC or not, Islam has been looking after the party’s interests in the area since 2016. But such is the fear of the courts that as soon as news of violence broke out, CM Mamata Banerjee instructed the police to arrest him. The BJP has called the arrest eyewash. With the Supreme Court passing adverse remarks and the High Court frowning upon the large scale violence, the government fears that fresh violence might lead the opposition to file a case for delaying the elections and this might not be to TMC’s advantage. Hence it is being very careful.

But why has the CM got to “instruct” the police to arrest Arabul Islam? Is it not the duty of the police to arrest trouble makers? Despite denying that Islam is a party worker, this episode shows that he is under TMC protection and has only been arrested because the CM ordered it. Otherwise, he has been allowed a free run of Bhangar for the last two years. It is because of his muscle flexing in the area that locals have now formed the SLLEPC and stood as independent candidates for the panchayat elections. It is really incomprehensible why a party that claims to have the support of the people needs to prevent opposition candidates from filing nominations. Is it scared of losing in a contest? Although Mamata Banerjee calls Modi undemocratic, what has been going on in West Bengal for the last couple of months is not democracy either.