West Bengal Governor sets up control room for panchayat poll grievances

A BJP supporter and relative of a candidate contesting rural polls was killed at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district

June 18, 2023 09:14 pm | Updated 09:14 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose interacts with administrative officials in South 24 Parganas on June 17, 2023 during his visit at violence-hit areas ahead of panchayat polls .

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose interacts with administrative officials in South 24 Parganas on June 17, 2023 during his visit at violence-hit areas ahead of panchayat polls . | Photo Credit: -

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose has set up a control room at Raj Bhavan where representation from the people will be received on threats and intimidation ahead of the panchayat election in the State.

Since the notification of panchayat election on June 8, seven political workers have been killed in the State. On Sunday, a BJP supporter was murdered in Cooch Behar district. Voting for the election will be held on July 8.

A statement from Raj Bhavan described the control room as ‘Peace Room’ and added that ‘Peace Room’ will refer the issues to the government and State Election Commission (SEC) for appropriate action.

The development comes after the Governor visited Bhangar and Canning, areas in South 24 Parganas district that were rocked by violence, during the nomination process for panchayat election. During his visit to Canning on Saturday the Governor had said that “mobocracy” was taking over at some places and there was deterioration of democracy.  

“In continuation of the frequent field visits of the Governor to the violence-affected areas and in view of the numerous representations received from the citizens on the criminal intimidation in pre-poll Bengal, a help room has been opened in Raj Bhavan to respond to the grievances of the public,” a press statement from the Raj Bhavan said.

While the Opposition parties welcomed the initiative the Trinamool Congress leadership said that the Governor was exceeding his jurisdiction with such initiatives.

Citizens can approach the ‘Peace Room’ by sending an email to OSD2w.b.governor@gmail.com and 033-22001641.

BJP supporter killed

Amidst the ongoing violence in the panchayat election, a BJP supporter was killed at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district. The deceased Sambhu Das was brother-in-law of Visakha Das, a BJP candidate from Dasgram gram panchayat. BJP MP from Cooch Behar and Union Minister of State Nisith Pramanik visited the house of the deceased BJP worker and claimed that Trinamool supporters were behind the violence. On Saturday a Trinamool gram panchayat candidate was killed at Kaliachak in Malda district. Since the notification of panchayat election on June 8, three persons have been killed at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas alone. State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said that if the culture of violence does not stop Trinamool will have to pay a heavy price. 

Threats to withdraw

With the nomination process ending on June 15, candidates of Opposition parties have alleged threats to withdraw their nomination papers. An independent candidate from Joynagar in South 24 Parganas district received a white envelope with the details of the panchayat seat he was contesting along flowers at his home, an indirect threat to withdraw nomination.

At Raninagar in Murshidabad, posters were put up in public places threatening candidates from Opposition parties to withdraw their nomination. Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said that sending white envelopes is associated with Communist Party of India (Marxist). Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee refuted all charges and took a dig at the BJP saying that central investigation agencies Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will not put up candidates for the party in the State’s panchayat polls.

“Opposition candidates who have been brave enough to file nominations, risking their lives, are now being hounded during the scrutiny process. Simultaneously they are being threatened to withdraw, otherwise...,” BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said, tweeting a video of a BJP candidate alleging he was attacked.

In another development, a section of State government employees under the banner of Sangrami Jouth Manch (SJM), said that they will not perform duties during the panchayat election if their security is not ensured and central forces are not deployed. The employees’ association has also decided to file an intervention application before the Supreme Court so that their views are heard when the SEC petition challenging the High Court order on deployment of central forces for the rural election comes up for hearing.

The SEC approached the apex court on Sunday against the Calcutta High Court order directing deployment of central forces in all districts of the State during the election. SJM has been protesting against the Trinamool government demanding dearness allowance (DA) at par with Centre and other States.

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