Six people have reportedly died and several others have been injured in the violence continuing unabated during the West Bengal panchayat polls. Reports of booth capturing, clashes between party workers and burning of ballot boxes kept pouring in since morning.
The Congress, whose workers clashed with those from the ruling TMC in at least two places in Malda, took to Twitter to condemn the violence and mock West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The official Twitter handle of West Bengal Congress posted a cartoon on Monday afternoon showing Mamata Banerjee wielding a megaphone that appears to be firing bullets.
“Chere diyechi rong ar tuli; thik korechi unnoyoner name voter dine marbo boma, chalabo gola guli (I have left the colours and the brushes. In the name of development, I will launch bombs and bullets on voting day),” the cartoon shows Banerjee as saying.
In its comment, the West Bengal Congress alleged that democracy had become a victim of violence in the polls.
“Democracy murdered today in West Bengal as violence has taken centre stage during Panchayat Polls. Already 6 people have died and scores injured. Madam CM has replaced her paint brushes with guns and bombs,” said the West Bengal Congress.
Democracy murdered today in West Bengal as violence has taken centre stage during Panchayat Polls. Already 6 people have died and scores injured. Madam CM has replaced her paint brushes with guns and bombs. #PanchayatBloodBath pic.twitter.com/caGsVwz7Pq
— West Bengal Congress (@INCWestBengal) May 14, 2018
Incidents of violence were reported from across West Bengal as polling to elect panchayat representatives got under way on Monday.
TV news channels aired footage showing goons brandishing weapons. In less than two hours from the start of the elections at 7 am, violence broke out in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts.
But Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien, however, appeared to play down the ongoing political violence by comparing the same to the violence during the Left Front rule. The Rajya Sabha MP also alleged that both the BJP and the CPI(M) had joined hands with the Maoists.
There were reports of ballot boxes being set on fire and booth capturing at some places. Bombs were also reportedly hurled at some places, including at cops in Uluberia. At least five journalists were also injured in the violence.
Voting was stopped at a polling station in Murshidabad after ballot papers were thrown into a pond following a clash between TMC and BJP workers.
In a related incident, West Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was caught on camera slapping a BJP polling agent in Natabari, prompting the saffron party to demand his immediate arrest. Ghosh defended himself saying the BJP worker was escaping with a ballot box.
Reports say Ghosh was served a showcause notice by the SEC.
The State Election Commission, which is conducting the panchayat elections, has received numerous complaints of violence and has asked the police to take action.