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BJP, TMC engage in political slugfest over rural polls in West Bengal


The Trinamool Congress and the BJP today engaged in a bitter political slugfest over opposition parties alleging that the TMC prevented their candidates from filing nominations for the panchayat polls in West Bengal due in May.

Mukul Roy

The BJP, Left Front and Congress alleged that the ruling TMC unleashed a reign of terror in various parts of the state and prevented opposition candidates from filing nominations.

The Trinamool Congress termed the allegations "baseless".

BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu told newsmen at Suri in Birbhum district there was information that the TMC had "engaged people having links with the banned Students Islamist Movement of India and terror outfit Islamic State to prevent its members from filing nominations".

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said the party will move the Supreme Court to ensure free, fair and peaceful rural polls.

Workers of the BJP and the Congress demonstrated outside the State Election Commission office here.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha alleged, "The TMC is afraid of holding free and fair polls. They are trying to stop our candidates from filing nominations." A BJP worker was attacked with rods and sharp-edged weapons at Ranibandh in Bankura district allegedly by TMC activists when he was accompanying a contestant to file nomination today, the party's district unit chief said.

The police said the worker had died.

Sources in the BJP alleged that their candidates were fired upon by TMC activists at Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur.

BJP leader Mukul Roy met SEC A K Singh and submitted a memorandum over the alleged violence.

"The SEC has assured us that he will look into the complaints sympathetically," Roy said.

TMC secretary general and minister Partha Chatterjee, on the other hand, accused the BJP of roping in outsiders to foment trouble in the north Bengal town.

He said, "The BJP is resorting to falsehood... that their candidates are being prevented from filing nominations. It is using a threatening language." Chatterjee said the TMC had filed 1,614 nominations and the BJP 1,143 nominations so far.

The CPI(M) has filed 351 nominations, and the Congress 127. About 200 Independents have also filed their papers, he said.

"The numbers belie the allegations that the TMC prevented opposition candidates from filing nominations," Chatterjee said.

The SEC said it was taking necessary steps to ensure free and fair polls.

"We have received complaints. We are looking into them. We will ensure that the polls are held in a free and fair manner and candidates can file their nominations," an SEC official said.

State Election Commissioner A K Singh today met Governor K N Tripathi and briefed him about the poll preparedness.

According to sources, the governor asked Singh to ensure peaceful elections. Accusing the governor of being "over active" with regard to the opposition's allegations, Chatterjee alleged the Raj Bhavan was "working like a political party's wing" and demanded the SEC be allowed to work independently.

"The way the Raj Bhavan is functioning based on one-sided information, it seems it is working as a wing of a political party," the education minister alleged.

He said, "We will also meet the governor, possibly tomorrow and tell him that those indulging in violence and rioting are claiming innocence and blaming others." Tripathi told PTI, "The governor is the guardian of the people of the state and he can take note of the events happening in the state." ADGP (law and order) Anuj Sharma said outsiders were hired to create violence at Raiganj.

"We will take action against them," he said without divulging who had hired them. The panchayat polls will be held in 20 districts on May 1, 3 and 5. The filing of the nominations began on April 2 and will continue till April 9.


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