Raj Bhavan’s control room receives hundreds of complaints on West Bengal panchayat polls

Governor CV. Ananda Bose says he will intervene if the process of free and fair elections is threatened

June 19, 2023 04:02 pm | Updated 09:51 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose visits the violence-hit Bhangar areas in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on June 16, 2023.

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose visits the violence-hit Bhangar areas in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on June 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Within a day of its opening, the control room set up at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata to register grievances relating to the panchayat polls in West Bengal has received more than 300 complaints.

Governor C. V. Ananda Bose said the complaints received would be forwarded to the State government and State Election Commission. On Monday, Mr. Bose met the officials at the control room and urged them to speak with compassion to those reaching out, but not make any commitments to them.

Speaking to reporters later, the Governor said the ‘peace room’ was necessary as certain misguided elements had opened up ‘war rooms’ in different parts of the State.

Also Read | West Bengal Governor sets up control room for panchayat poll grievances

When asked why the Governor had intervened in the electoral process, Mr. Bose said he was performing his duty and pointed out that the oath he took as the Governor of the State also says that he has to ensure the well-being of the people of West Bengal.

“People of West Bengal are demanding that there should be free and fair elections. If there is any threat to them, I will intervene. All the stakeholders, the people, the government, the State Election Commissioner and the Governor have to play their role together. The Governor’s role has to be a bridge between the government and the governed,” he said.

Mr. Bose said that there had been allegations that many of those who wanted to contest the polls were not allowed to file nomination papers by “musclemen”.

Around ten employees of the Raj Bhavan are engaged in the functioning of the ‘peace room’. Citizens can approach them by sending an email to OSD2w.b.governor@gmail.com and reach out to the telephone number 033-22001641.

Among those who made the call to the helpline number was Raju Bista, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) MP for Darjeeling, who alleged that there was a threat to his life. The complaint was forwarded to the State Election Commission, which in turn sent it to Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling. Officials at the ‘peace room’ said they received complaints from Trinamool Congress supporters as well.

The ‘peace room’ was set up following the Governor’s visit to Canning and Bhangar areas in the State which are affected by the violence, and met with the locals there.

Trinamool reacts

The Governor’s initiative has evoked strong reactions from Trinamool Congress leadership. Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the Governor was behaving like a BJP cadre. Party MP Santanu Sen said Mr. Bose had started following his predecessor, Jagdeep Dhankhar. The Governor refused to make any comments on the remarks by the Trinamool leaders.

CPI(M) State Secretary Md. Salim said the Governor should summon the Chief Minister, State’s Chief Secretary and the State’s Election Commission instead of setting up a control room.

Meanwhile, State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar visited the Raj Bhavan on Monday along with candidates who have allegedly been threatened during the poll process. June 20 (Tuesday) is the last day for the withdrawal of nomination papers.

The violence, which started after the notification for panchayat polls was issued on June 9, has so far claimed seven lives in the State. Elections to nearly 73,897 seats (63,239 gram panchayats , 9730 panchayat samitis and 928 zilla parishad seats) in the State will be held on July 8.

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