Kolkata, July 21;West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday indirectly put the onus of panchayat poll violence on the State Election Commission, arguing that the elections were being conducted by the SEC and the state had provided adequate policemen requisitioned by the poll panel.
Expressing sadness at the loss of lives in poll violence, Ms. Banerjee said in a write-up posted in the Trinamool Congress website, “Every death is a tragedy, irrespective of the party he or she belongs to. A family loses a precious member who can never be replaced. Election is being conducted by the State election Commission, not the government. Adequate police were provided as per requirement stipulated by the SEC.”
Ten persons have lost their lives ahead of tomorrow’s fourth phase election.
The state government and the SEC were locked in a battle over the conduct of the rural poll with both moving the court for a direction.
Appealing to the masses to maintain peace and exercise franchise freely, Ms. Banerjee said the people of the state should enjoy the fresh air of democracy which has been missing for decades.
She also lashed out at the Congress, CPI(M) and BJP for demanding a five-phase poll by ignoring the logical and practical suggestion about a one-day poll.
“The CPI(M), Congress, BJP and even the honourable court all preferred a five-phased election. No one listened to our logical and practical suggestion about a one-day poll,” said Ms. Banerjee.
“The ground reality is this that these are local elections often with micro local issues of the state. These are not the Lok Sabha elections, which needed to be handled differently,” Ms. Banerjee argued.
Ms. Banerjee claimed that the first and the second phase of panchayat poll had passed off peacefully.
“Yes in the third phase there have been some incidents. In the first three phases elections were held in the districts where the Trinamool have a huge support among the common people,” said Ms. Banerjee.
Ms. Banerjee accused the Congress of trying to create mischief in the fourth and fifth phases as it has some presence in Malada and Murshidabad district.
“In the fourth and fifth phases starting from tomorrow, there are areas (Malda, Murshidabad) where the Congress too has their presence. They are deliberately up to mischief there,” claimed Ms. Banerjee.