From the date of announcement to polling day and now after the results, violence in Bengal Panchayat Election seems to have no end. The central forces are still deployed in the state citing violence, but not a single day passed by without any violent activity in the region.
Most recently, visuals of houses set ablaze are shared widely on social media with claims that all of them belong to BJP party workers. Sources claimed that the incident took place in the Amragori Village in Howrah. The region falls under the jurisdiction of the Joypur police station.
Sharing about the incident the leader of the opposition, Suvendu Adhikari wrote on Twitter, “Post Poll Violence has again infested Rural Bengal. Thousands of Opposition Party Candidates, Party Workers & Supporters have been left shelterless across the State, as their houses are being attacked, put on fire or they are being driven out of the villages due the threat to their lives.”
Post Poll Violence has again infested Rural Bengal. Thousands of Opposition Party Candidates, Party Workers & Supporters have been left shelterless across the State, as their houses are being attacked, put on fire or they are being driven out of the villages due the threat to… pic.twitter.com/Y9i8RAH1jv
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) July 14, 2023
He added, “BJP Gram Panchayat Candidate Soma Roy’s house was set on fire in Amragori Village; Amta Block in Howrah district around 2.30 am last night. Tapasi Das Burman; BJP Zilla Parishad Candidate from Sabang Block; Paschim Medinipur district, has no roof over her head now and she & her family are desperately searching for shelter in the monsoon. Hundreds of Safe Houses have been made operational by @BJP4Bengal across the State for sheltering hounded BJP Candidates & their families. BJP & other opposition candidates are being tormented by the TMC goons for participating in the Panchayat Elections, while the Police conveniently look the other way.”
A verified Twitter handle wrote, “West Bengal: Six houses of BJP workers were set on fire last night in Amragori Village of Joypur PS in Howrah Amta. 2 people of these houses were of BJP candidates who fought in recent concluded Panchayat election.”
West Bengal: Six house of BJP workers were set on fire last night in Amragori Village of Joypur PS in Howrah Amta. 2 people of these houses were of BJP candidates who fought in recent concluded Panchayat election.pic.twitter.com/satRYXskut
— Megh Updates 🚨™ (@MeghUpdates) July 14, 2023
Notably, the videos were shared by Manoj Kumar Pandey, Convenor HHM Zone for BJP West Bengal on July 14. While sharing the video Pandey wrote, “Six houses of BJP people were set on fire last night in Amragori Village of Joypur PS in Howrah Amta by TMC Goons. 2 people of this houses were BJP candidates in the election.”
Two days back, on July 12, as many as six people died following the bloody scuffle in South 24 Parganas area. Notably, an IPS officer was also injured in the attacks. The deceased were identified as Rezaul Gazi and Hasan Mollah — both ISF workers — and one Raju Mollah, a local resident, police said.
The violence in the region is only growing in numbers. If we go by the figures, from the date of announcement, June 8 to date, 48 people have lost their lives. On the polling day itself, as many as 18 people, including supporters of different parties were killed.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, whose TMC has swept the panchayat elections, however, claimed that 19 people died in poll-related violence since June 8. She announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia each to the next of kin of the deceased and a job as a home guard to one family member.
“I don’t support violence. West Bengal is being maligned,” chief minister Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat, accusing the opposition parties for attacks. “I didn’t say a word for long. But there is a limit to everything. The polls were held in more than 70,000 booths, but violence took place in not more than 60 booths. The opposition planned the attacks. We abided by all court directions.”
With only violence, rigging and capturing of the booths, stopping voters by waving guns at them and every possible efforts, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) managed to sweep the elections. The other contesting parties including, BJP, Congress and the CPI (M) are left with minimum votes.
In the Gram Pancahayts, the opposition party BJP won as many as 9,000 seats in comparison to the 33,000 won by Mamata’s TMC. Here it is noteworthy that, last year 35 percent of the seats won by TMC were uncontested, meaning no one was allowed to stand against the TMC leaders in these areas. This year the vote percentage of the BJP has increased in comparison to last year when TMC won around 38,000 seats.
As far as Panchayat Samitis are concerned, the TMC won 2612 seats and BJP won only 275 seats. In Zila Parishad elections too TMC performed well.
Due to attacks at the polling booths and the burning of the ballot boxes, on July 10, polling was organised in as many as 697 booths.
Following the violence in the elections, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said, “This is not an election, this is death. There is a fire of violence across the state. Central forces have not been deployed. CCTVs are not operating. This is not voting but loot…This is the collusion of TMC goons and Police and that is why so murders are happening,” he told ANI.
Voicing concern over the situation on the ground, the Bengal governor told reporters, “It is depressing that people in those (violence-hit) areas are in a state of fear. But now what is important is tomorrow’s election. I think the permanent solution, whether it is violence or corruption, is the black ink on the index finger. That is the symbol of the strength of a common man.”