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Friday, June 9, 2023

West Bengal votes as Mamata turns desperate

The electoral process to elect representatives to the 294 seats in the West Bengal assembly began last Saturday. Fighting a desperate struggle to cling onto power, Mamta Bannerjee and her party the TMC have been trying hard to beat down the challenge posed by a resurgent BJP. Brazenly, she is employing the same old dirty tricks used by her communist predecessors until recently as a decade ago.  Death, murder, and mayhem. 

By eliminating political opposition adversaries, the TMC plans to impart fear into the hearts and souls of not just the families of their murder victims but also entire villages and communities. Both phases of polling indicates large voter turnout hitting anywhere between 80 to 82% which likely indicates anti-incumbency and bad news for the TMC and its eccentric leadership. 

How the TMC ‘plan’ pans out remains to be seen and should become apparent come the early hours of May the 2nd when the results will be declared. They have now literally turned to their party slogan that the game is on. And for those who are familiar with the history of WB politics under CPM and TMC rule, such games are always deadly.

An empty TMC voter assistance booth (Source: Twitter)

Cooch Behar BJP President Amit Sarkar was allegedly murdered last week and his body hung in front of a veterinary hospital to make it look like a suicide. His family says that he used to work late into the nights and that he went out informing them that he had election duties.    

This at a time when the district voters head to booths on the 10th of April to elect their MLAs. Is the current dispensation underestimating the common sense of lakhs of BJP workers and their supporters? Does the same fate that awaited the communists (not just in Bengal but the world over) await TMC too?

Many BJP workers, and even an MLA have been found ‘hanging’ in similar murky circumstances. In MLA D.N. Roy’s death, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a petition filed by his wife seeking probe by central agencies, but the same SC constituted an independent SIT to re-investigate the murder case of a BSP MLA from UP where a BJP leader stood accused. Double standards, or high-level judicial decision-making beyond us ordinary mortals?

The situation remains grim in many parts of the state and BJP workers are having to protest in front of police stations to even work on wall graffiti, without being attacked. Voting continues in eight phases till the 29th of April.

A bus belonging to the EC carrying polling officials and EVMs was burned a few meters away from a polling booth in Tulsidi village in the Purulia District. Surrounded by dense forests that were once prowled by Maoists, this time around luckily, they torched it after the officials and polling materials were safely offloaded. 

As per Anup Chakraborthy, the BJP District President of the BJP, polling booths in Bhagabanpur of the Purba Medinipur district were being attacked by the TMC with active support from Islamist goons. A few hours before polling, bombs were hurled and firing continued throughout the night, seriously injuring the Police Station officer-in-charge Deepak Kumar and a Central Forces jawan.

In Paschim Medinipur district, at Contai, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s car was vandalized by TMC goons. Bricks were hurled hurting Adhikari’s driver. This is what Adhikari had to say immediately after the attack “Fearing defeat the TMC is unleashing violence and this clearly proves that this the last resort of the ruling TMC.” 

In Keshiary, TMC alleged that BJP workers were preventing them from stepping outside but the central forces deployed there said that despite providing adequate security, the TMC supporters did not leave their houses to vote. A BJP worker named Lal Mohan Soren (aka Ananta) was allegedly killed and his body hung from a tree by the TMC goons in the same area. BJP’s former district president Shamit Das said, “TMC killed Ananta and hung his body from the tree to disturb peace in the area and intimidate voters and our party’s workers ahead of polling.”

Meanwhile, BJP supporters said they were being denied their right to vote in Bhagbanpur, due to chaos in the area as TMC goons threatened to cut them in half. Goons were seen doing rounds with sharp weapons so as to prevents voters and BJP supporters from casting their vote. 

In Bankura, the TMC candidate tried to enter the polling booth to meet his agent following which security personnel restricted him. He wanted to meet the polling booth officer and wanted to check on EVM machines while polling was taking place! He was asked to meet with his own party polling agents outside the booth and leave.

The TMC candidate in Purulia, Sujoy Bandyopadhyay, on Saturday threatened to shoot local BJP leader Dipak Bauri during an altercation. This happened following attempts by the TMC to block a polling booth in the area. Sujoy later told reporters ”I said something in the heat of the moment but didn’t issue any life threat as is being projected.” 

When one considers that this was just the first stage out of eight, voting in West Bengal for BJP supporters will be no walk in the park. Hundreds of workers have been ruthlessly slaughtered by the TMC when they were in power for ten years.

Events from phase 2 of voting which took place yesterday show that the violence and political grandstanding by Mamata and her bunch of desperadoes is beginning to peak. TMC goons brutally attacked the convoy of a BJP candidate from Keshpur, Paschim Medinipur, in which even media was not spared.

Later, a wheelchair bound Mamata parked herself outside a polling booth in her constituency Nandigram and made a dramatic call to the WB Governor complaining, “They did not allow the local people to cast their vote.” She also alleged that “BJP’s goons from Bihar and UP have been protected by the central forces”. If this is not naked meddling with the election process and intimidation by a sitting CM, what is? And just outside the same polling booth, Hindu women were heard sharing with pain how they were denied from voting by TMC’s Muslim supporters.

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