Senior Trinamool Congress leader and North Bengal Development Minister Udayan Guha has created a storm by asking his party cadres to ensure that the Opposition parties do not find any candidate to field in the forthcoming panchayat polls (see this).
Guha, a three-time MLA from Dinhata Assembly constituency in North Bengal, gave this call while addressing party workers of his constituency Wednesday (15 March) evening.
The minister’s call is a thinly-veiled exhortation to Trinamool cadres to threaten and intimidate Opposition workers.
The Trinamool had followed this script in the 2018 panchayat polls and ensured that Opposition parties could not field candidates in 34 per cent of the seats.
The Trinamool won these seats unopposed, and elections in the remaining were marred by widespread rigging and violence.
Opposition leaders, workers and supporters were beaten up, their houses and business establishments looted and torched, and their womenfolk molested by rampaging Trinamool goons who drove away Opposition polling agents from booths and rigged the polls.
Though the Trinamool won more than 80 per cent of the seats where elections were held, its blatant display of money and muscle power angered the masses.
The BJP’s handsome win in 14 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 was attributed to people’s anger with the Trinamool over the rigging of the panchayat polls the previous year.
That’s why the top Trinamool leadership, especially Mamata Banerjee and her nephew, have been repeatedly cautioning party functionaries against rigging the ensuing panchayat polls. Both of them have been promising that the panchayat polls this time will be absolutely free and fair.
But many Trinamool leaders have not paid heed to those warnings. Guha, whose father Kamal Guha was a senior leader of the Forward Bloc and a four-time cabinet minister in the Left Front government, isn’t the only one to issue threats to Opposition parties.
According to leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikary, many Trinamool leaders have been asking their cadres to be ready to attack Opposition leaders, candidates, workers and supporters.
“Reports of such exhortations are coming in from all over the state. The Trinamool cannot afford to hold free and fair elections because it will lose badly in many parts of the state then. And it can ill-afford such big losses just before the 20204 Lok Sabha polls. That is why we apprehend widespread violence, intimidation and rigging and have demanded that central forces be deployed for the polls,” Adhikary told Swarajya.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.