New Delhi > The Left Parties have said in a joint statement that the ruling party TMC in West Bengal has resorted to full-fledged assault on democracy and rule of law as Panchayat elections have started to become a farce. With murderous attacks on opposition candidates in the nomination process, this year’s Panchayat elections have brought out the authoritarian character of TMC most crudely, the statement said. CPI M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI National Secretary D Raja, Kavita Krishnan (CPI UML Liberation), Dharmendra Kumar (AIFB), Pran Nath, and Satyavan (SUCI Communist) attended the Press Meet.
The attacks going on in West Bengal are not just on the Left Front but on the entire opposition and strikes at the very roots of democracy. We call upon all those who cherish democracy and democratic values to resist these attacks and assert their rights guaranteed under the Constitution, the statement said.
The left parties also criticised the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her authoritarianism. She herself declared repeatedly that she wanted ‘opposition-free Panchayats’. Her party leaders, including MP-s called upon party activists to ensure that no opposition member gets elected. Hence, the monstrous process has started, the releases said.
Since 2nd April when filing of nominations began for all three phases of polling, the state has witnessed the shameful spectacle of TMC goons stationed at the administrative offices physically assaulting and chasing away candidates of the opposition and of the Left parties in particular.
Hundreds of Left and opposition candidates have been injured, their identity cards and other papers snatched away. In many places, offices of the parties have been raided by TMC men to snatch away papers and to threaten people.
On April 5th, Ramachandra Dome, former MP and CPI M Central Committee member who was leading a group of candidates to file nominations at Nalhati in Birbhum district was brutally attacked and suffered a head injury.
In all these attacks, the police have refused to intervene, or, are in connivance with the TMC men.
The time given for filing of nominations for all three phases is only between 2nd and 9th April, which the Left parties called “too short”. At the same time, the time for withdrawals is also one week, which is unusually long. The leaders registered their concern over this unusually long period being used by TMC to intimidate opposition candidates to withdraw.
Non-existent State Election Commission
The State Election Commission has abjectly surrendered and has remained totally insensitive to atrocities committed. Left Front delegation has met State Election Commissioner regularly but he expressed his inability to address any of the grievances. Left Front delegation has demanded security for nomination process, which is practically absent in districts. Apart from direct attack, system of providing provisional caste certificate has been cancelled. The very short time span available for nomination has made this process more difficult. State Election Commission has also failed to explain the rationale behind schedule. While only seven days are available for submission of nomination, same number of days have allowed for withdrawal. It has been apprehended that TMC would pressurize and force opposition candidates to withdraw.
The first phase of voting will take place on May Day. Central trade unions, Left parties and many other organizations have forcefully objected to this denigration of International Working Peoples’ Day and demanded a change in schedule. Trade Unions organized a rally in front of State Election Commission office.
In Mamata Banerjee’s reign, one State Election Commissioner had to move to courts seeking protection of her duties under tremendous threat from the state government and another was forced to resign during election process threatened by state ministers. On 5th April, as many as seven state ministers went to State Election Commission office to further pressurize them. On 6th April 17 parties including Left Front will conduct a dharna in front of SEC office.