Union Minister for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises K.H Muniyappa on Wednesday appealed to the West Bengal government and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to ensure law and order in the State.

“It is its duty to protect the people by maintaining law and order and peace,” Mr. Muniyappa said when asked about violence in the ongoing panchayat elections, in which more than 20 people have lost their lives. He said Congress supporters were being attacked.

Senior State Congress leader Manas Bhunia said the Trinamool Congress government had not paid heed to the State Election Commission advice on holding free and fair polls.

“In the first rural polls held with the Trinamool in power, as many as 6,625 candidates of the ruling party are set to win without contest, others having been forced to withdraw from the fray or prevented from filing their nominations. It is a matter of shame that 75 lakh voters have been denied their right to vote, as a result,” Dr. Bhunia said.

Despite repeated SEC requests, the government did not remove the officer-in-charge of the Pingla police station in Paschim Medinipur district, Dr. Bhunia pointed out.