Stray incidents of clashes were reported from different districts during the first day of filing nomination. In Midnapore, the Opposition parties, especially CPI-M and the BJP, alleged that they were restricted by the ruling Trinamul Congress workers from filing their nomination papers.
The CPI-M leaders alleged that their candidates were not allowed to file their nomination papers at Sutahata, Panskura, Khejuri-I and Khejuri- II blocks as the ruling Trinamul workers dragged them out of the election offices and beat them up.
“We had urged the district administration, police and election commission to look into the matter. But no one took any step to prevent the Trinamul workers from erecting barricades before the Opposition party candidates. We have lodged complaints with the respective police officers,” said Niranjan Sihi, CPIM East Midnapore district secretary.
The BJP leaders also alleged that their candidates were not allowed to file nomination papers. As the TMC workers put up a resistance before the BJP candidates, a clash broke out between the two parties inside the Sutahata block office.
To protest against the threat, intimidation and torture, the BJP workers put up a roadblock in front of the Sutahat office, but they later lifted the agitation when the district administration assured them that they would take necessary step in connection with the matter.
“It is our firm conviction that the ruling Trinamul Congress is in league with the State Election Commission in making resistance aimed at disrupting the democratic process by not allowing the opposition from contesting the panchayat elections,” said Bis warup Pradhan, a BJP leader.
Murshidabad district Congress also alleged that miscreants backed by the Trinamul Congress are terrorising their candidates. Addressing a Press meet this afternoon, the district Congress president, Mr Abu Taher Khan, said that a Congress delegation met the district magistrate, Mr P Ulaganathan, and urged him for taking lawful action against those involved in disrupting the poll process.
He alleged that the Trinamul backed goons operating from camp offices already set up at Domkal, Murshidabad- Jiaganj, Barwan, Behrampore, Bharatpur-II, Raghunathganj- I and II blocks, are obstructing the Congress candidates from entering the BDO office for submission of nomination papers.
The president of Murshidabad district TMC, Mr Subrata Saha, brushed aside the allegation, saying: “By accusing TMC of coercion, the Congress leaders are actually foretelling their defeats.”
Sporadic violence erupted in different block development offices in Burdwan (East) and Bankura as well. Nominations for 67 gram panchayat seats, 13 panchayat samiti seats were filed in Burdwan (East), where no filing of nomination for zilla parishad seat was recorded.
In Bankura, nominations for 162 gram panchayat seats, 29 panchayat samiti seats and one zilla parishad seat were recorded. Four CPI-M leaders and cadres suffered injuries when they accompanied candidates to six panchayats and two panchayat samitis at the Barjora BDO office this morning.
District committee leader of the party, Mr Sujoy Chowdhury, was leading the team. The party alleged that goons backed by the Trinamul Congress barged into the BDO office and tried to restrain the CPI-M candidates preparing to file nomination. Block Trinamul Congress president Alok Mukherjee denied the charge and said: “They staged the drama to woo public sympathy.”
In Bishnupur, two Trinamul Congress groups clashed over nomination. The Opposition members brought charges of Trinamul Congress’s atrocities at Ketugram, Mongalkote and Ausgram-1 and Galsi.
At Gangatikuri in Ketugram – 2 block, Mr Nirmalya Chatterjee, a CPI-M cadre, was left bruised allegedly by the ruling party members. At Mongalkote, former zilla parishad member Durjyodhon Sar was attacked and his vehicle ransacked by a group of Trinamul Congress members.
Mr Swapan Debnath, district president of the Trinamul Congress, said: “They are failing to arrange candidates and so are trying to camouflage their wretched condition.” The DM, Burdwan (East), Mr Anurag Srivastava, said: “Some demanded for extension of nomination dates and some discussed about problems with availability of caste certificates. We have asked them to apply online.”
PCC chief Adhir Chowdhury alleged that the acts of not letting grassroot democracy function has the aproval of the chief minister. Holding the present state election commissioner, A K Singh, to be biased, the PCC felt that things would have been better had an officer of the calibre of his predecessor, Meera Pandey, bee in his place. If the current trend continues, he said, it would appear that the panchayat polls has been boycotted by the Opposition.