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Varanasi
Sunday, May 29, 2022

West Bengal: Weapon-wielding goons on streets, fake voters at the booth sum up ‘death of democracy’ in municipal elections

On Saturday, various BJP leaders from West Bengal took to Twitter to share several visuals from the ongoing municipal elections in the state, exposing the extent of vote-rigging and violence. West Bengal has gone into polling for elections to municipal corporations of Bidhannagar, Chandannagar, Asansol, and Siliguri. Though most media houses claim that the elections were ‘peaceful’ with over 70% turnout, videos from these areas and that from some polling booths suggest otherwise.

One of the most disturbing and blood-curdling visuals was shared by Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari that demonstrated the “murder of democracy” in Adhikari’s words. The video captured by a woman who chose to stay anonymous showed violence by weapon-wielding miscreants; the sound of firing could also be heard multiple times. The woman narrated that these miscreants had resorted to firing all day and didn’t allow anyone to vote. She also stated that these goons had held a gun to her father’s head. While sharing these visuals, Adhikari called out the inaction of State Election Commissioner Sourav Das.

General Secretary of West Bengal BJP and MLA from Asansol South (West Bengal) Agnimitra Paul shared a video on her Twitter handle. The video showed hordes of men marching through a street chanting TMC’s war cry, “Khela Hobe” and brandishing bamboos and batons. The MLA stated that Damra in Asansol South is a safe haven for TMC miscreants and that they were moving freely shouting the TMC slogan in the face of police officials.

She claimed that the Asansol Municipal Election was a farce in the name of democracy. Tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she pleaded with him to save democracy in Bengal. In another tweet, she also added that rigging was going on full force at ward no 78, at the Burnpur Boys School booth and sought the aid of the Election Commission to save Bengal and its democracy.

Further, she shared the image of Adarsh Sharma, BJP candidate of ward 15 Asansol Municipal Corporation, who looked roughed up. Agnimitra disclosed that Sharma was attacked by TMC miscreants and hit on his head. She also challenged the state CM reminding her that she had assured of a “free and fair” election. On Friday, Agnimitra had declared on Twitter that BJP candidates were not even allowed to submit nominations claiming the Police, TMC miscreants & State Election Commission together played foul and demanded deployment of central force.

One Twitter user suggested that the TMC had inducted a bulk of its goons from the CPIM.

Clearly, the culture of political violence established by the Communists during their brutal 34-year-long rule of the state, has been adopted and furthered by the fascist Mamata regime.

With the state machinery and administration backing the miscreants, the audacity of fake voters has increased as well. The on-field journalist of Calcutta News stationed at ward no. 32 caught one such person on camera, who admitted that his name and identity are different and he had come to the booth to cast a fake vote. The report highlighted that though the police were standing nearby, whether or not they take any action against this fake voter remains to be seen.

When the reporter questioned the officials at the booth on why they were not checking the identity of the voters, one official replied that they do not have the orders to check the identity of voters and had no idea if at all the Election Commission had given anyone the duty to ascertain the identities of those who walked into the booth to vote. When the police on duty at the ward were informed about the false voters, they shrugged it off saying it was not their responsibility to arrest them; they were also clueless on whose duty it was to check the identities of the voters.

A fake voter with no voter ID card was also nabbed by BJP candidate Debashish Jana at Bidhannagar’s Ward no 31. The incident was captured by Republic Bangla.

Another fake voter was caught at Bidhannagar’s Ward no 27 at the Chanchan Kumari Balika Vidyalaya booth by ABP Ananda. When quizzed by the reporters, he introduced himself as Ranjit Das, but the voter slip he was carrying identified him as Debashish Ghosh. When confronted, he fled the spot.

Frustrated and disappointed with the situation, few social media users opined that this situation will continue till strong central forces do not get deployed in West Bengal during elections.

Conclusion

Elections in Bengal have always suffered from the blight of violence, voter intimidation, booth capture etc. While even Bihar has moved beyond the horrific 1990s when violence and booth capturing during Lalu and Rabri’s rule was still an ugly reality, the situation in West Bengal has worsened ever since the 2016 Panchayat elections where TMC won 30% of the seats uncontested. The emergence of BJP as a real challenger to TMC in the 2014 LS elections, meant Mamata gave full license to her goons to target BJP leaders, workers and voters.

The complete politicization and demoralization of the West Bengal police was achieved by Mamata within the first 2 years of her rule itself. The blood-curdling post-poll pogrom after last year’s assembly elections showed how the WB Police has now been reduced to an extended arm of Mamata’s party and how they abetted the targeted violence against BJP workers and supporters.

After dragging its feet for months, faced with undeniable victim testimony and NHRC fact-finding team’s report, the Calcutta HC had to finally accept that WB Police’s credibility is shot, and they handed over serious cases of murder and rape to CBI for investigation.

Our courts, media and intellectual elites have turned a blind eye to the complete destruction of constitutional norms and the murder of democracy in this sensitive border state. WB Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has been the lone senior Constitutional authority to speak openly about the break down of law & order and hijacking of the electoral process. Even PM Modi and HM Amit Shah have failed to speak up and read the riot act to Mamata.

Appeals in court by BJP and other opposition parties for deployment of forces, or other measures to ensure free and fair elections are either put on the backburner or dismissed by the senior judiciary that is heavily influenced by the Lutyens’ legal cabal led by Kapil Sibal, Indra Jaising etc.

The 2021 assembly elections did have reasonable deployment of CPRF and other central forces, but even that didn’t deter the TMC goons (they had been earlier goaded by Mamata to ‘gherao CRPF’) when they attempted to storm a voting booth in Sitalkuchi and snatch weapons from CRPF jawans, forcing soldiers to open fire in which 4 died. TMC propagandists like Derek O’Brien called that incident ‘genocide’ and now courts are being used to target the CRPF officers involved in the incident.

Moreover, central forces are not around in the pre and post election period. Mamata was seen taunting her opponents in rallies on how they would be begging for mercy after central forces depart. Predictably, the day the election results were announced, TMC goons went on the rampage and central forces could not intervene as their mandate was only to conduct elections.

To revive West Bengal and restore order, we need President’s rule for 6 months to 1 year, and a complete revamp of WB police. Only then can we think of holding free and fair elections. Else such farcical elections will continue.

Interestingly, none of the Western NGOs or organizations who claim to ‘monitor and track’ democracies like Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Democracy Index” (UK), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance – IDEA (Sweden), Freedom House (US), V-Dem Institute (Sweden) have anything to say about the fascism that Mamata Banerjee has unleashed. For the last few years, they all have been harping on one thing as this BBC report states-

The rankings blame Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP government for the backsliding of democracy. Under Mr Modi’s watch, they say, there has been increased pressure on human rights groups, intimidation of journalists and activists, and a spate of attacks, especially against Muslims. This, they add, has led to a deterioration of political and civil liberties in the country.”

If this is not propaganda, what is? The same Western liberal elites hail Mamata Banerjee, she is invited to a ‘World Meeting for Peace’ by a Catholic organization in Rome!

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