The West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) on Saturday moved the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court order directing deployment of Central forces in the State, following violence in the run-up to the panchayat polls.
Six persons, including a Trinamool Congress candidate, have been killed in the State since the announcement of panchayat elections on June 9.
The High Court on June 15 directed that Central forces be deployed in all the districts of the State within 48 hours of the order.
The decision of the commission to move the top court is contrary to the remarks made by State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha that he will comply with the orders of the High Court.
On Friday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raised questions on the deployment of Central forces and said though such forces had been sent to Manipur, violence had not ended.
The Trinamool Congress leadership said the party was not bothered whether Central forces were deployed in the State or not. Political parties in the Opposition have raised questions on the WBSEC decision to challenge the High Court order, particularly when the High Court said the cost of deployment would be borne by the Centre and not the State government. Political observers and Opposition parties said that by approaching the Supreme Court, the State poll panel was buying time as the nomination process for the rural polls had concluded and elections to about 73,887 seats in the three-tier panchayats are scheduled for July 8.
During the day, Governor C.V. Ananda Bose visited Canning in South 24 Parganas district, which was affected by violence during the filing of nominations.
The Governor met some people who alleged that they were not allowed to file nomination papers. Speaking to mediapersons, the Governor said that he heard about intimidation and strong arm tactics being used and that mobocracy had taken over. “ In some places I have visited there seems to be deterioration in democracy...I do not want to generalise this as I have visited only a few places,” the Governor said.
On Friday, he visited violence-affected Bhangar in the same district and called for joint efforts by all stakeholders to end violence. Mr. Bose also summoned the State election panel chief to Raj Bhawan. Mr. Sinha apprised Raj Bhawan that he was busy in the scrutiny of the nominations and would visit any other day.
Reacting to the Governor’s visit to the violence-affected areas, the Trinamool Congress said he was “adding fuel to the fire and behaving like a BJP member”.
Trinamool candidate killed
In continuing violence in the State, a Trinamool Congress gram panchayat head was beaten to death at Kaliachak in Malda district on Saturday. The victim, Mustafa Sheikh, was also a candidate for the upcoming polls. Minister and Malda MLA Sabina Yeasmin said a faction of Trinamool leaders who were denied tickets to contest the panchayat polls and later joined the Congress was behind the murder. Ms. Yeasmin demanded action from the State Election Commission and the State administration.
With Saturday’s killing, the number of those killed since the announcement of panchayat polls in the State has increased to six. Three persons were killed at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district and two in Murshidabad district since June 9 when the elections were announced.
Along with Kaliachak, tension prevailed at Dinhata in State’s Cooch Behar district where the supporters of the Trinamool and the BJP came face to face over scrutiny of candidates for the panchayat elections.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nishith Pramanik alleged that his convoy was stopped citing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr.PC around the BDO office. The Minister claimed that BJP supporters were attacked and an arrow was thrown at his vehicle.