It is the beginning of dark days for democracy in the State, says Congress

The Trinamool Congress is set to win about 14 per cent of the seats without any contest in nine districts of West Bengal scheduled to go to the polls in the first phase of the panchayat elections on July 2.  

There have been allegations over the past few weeks of large-scale intimidation and, in several cases, attacks on nominees of Opposition parties by activists of the ruling party. It has also raised questions of the fairness of the election process. 

Statistics at the State Election Commission office on Tuesday, a day after the process of filing of nomination papers and withdrawal for the first phase ended, reveal that of about 36,000 seats in the three-tier rural bodies going to the polls in this phase, Trinamool Congress candidates are the only ones in the fray in about 5,200 seats. 

The nominees of all the other parties have either not been allowed to file their nomination papers or forced to withdraw in the face of threats from Trinamool Congress activists, leaders of the Opposition parties pointed out. 

“This is a record. We have never witnessed such a one-sided election before,” Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra said. 

It would be remembered by the people that the Trinamool candidates won the seats uncontested and not elected, he pointed out. 

“It is the beginning of dark days for democracy in the State. Our party supporters are asking how much they have to suffer at the hands of the ruling party,” senior State Congress leader Manas Ranjan Bhunia said. 

Responding to the allegations of the use of force against candidates of the Opposition parties, Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said the parties were unable to decide on candidates. 

“I have been saying for quite sometime that the CPI(M) and the Congress will not be able to put up their candidates in all the seats,” he added.