As Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not want any opposition to the TMC in the Panchayat elections, the party cadre spilled blood all over to uphold her diktat leaving 18 persons dead.
Since the announcement of the date of Panchayat elections in West Bengal, leaders of Trinamool Congress, the ruling party, gave a call for opposition-free Panchayats. The TMC workers (read goons) tried their level-best to please their leaders. They tortured opposition activists, pressurised leaders and terrorised villages in the last one and half months. They put all types of hurdles to stop the filing of the nominations by other political parties in each stage of three-tier Panchayat election. As a matter of fact, the TMC leaders have been pumping in huge amount of money in the Panchayat bodies. People in rural Bengal have been keen to get relief from the TMC Raj, so the people decided to set up vigil against the anti-social elements. Who can bell the cat for them? Presently, nothing is left in Left in the villages of West Bengal. The Bharatiya Janata Party is gradually taking the position of the main opposition in the state. The TMC specially targeted the scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes, as protest mostly has been coming from the Dalit communities in the recent times. Three Dalit activists of Bharatiya Janata Party lost their lives last month.
Despite all the terror, the BJP has increased its rural base in last 18 months. Police administration is not functioning in most of the districts. In some areas, Police and local administration are shamelessly supporting the hooliganism of TMC. The Police allowed the TMC cadre to vandalise the nomination process, indulge in open hooliganism at Sub-division offices, looting of the opposition supporters’ houses and indulging in even molestation of women folk in villages. On the other hand, Police took prompt action against the BJP and other opposition workers.
In most of the districts, TMC cadre captured the booths, while the polling teams were mere spectators, and Police personnel stood like puppets. Wherever opposition or villagers tried to protest, the TMC hooligans would become violent. In Kakdweep, South 24 Parganas TMC goons burnt alive a CPM supporting couple. In front of hundreds of villagers, Deboprashad Das (50) and his wife Usharani Das ( 41) were tied to a pillar inside their house, the TMC workers locked their room and set the house ablaze. The incident happened few hours before the polling process started at Budhakhali village of Kakdweep. No one has so far been arrested.
The Trinamool Congress encouraged the fundamental elements for their vested interest. The Islamic fundamentalist and Jihadi elements have been pampered by the party and the TMC government in the last few years. The TMC has been using them as its fighting force. In a large number of blocks, TMC hooligans were found in skullcap and faces covered with towels.
Arabul Mondal of Bhangore, 24 Parganas is a perfect example of a rebel fundamentalist force of TMC. Once Partha Chattopadhyay called him as a “Taza Chele” (Fresh Boy), when he started killing opposition political activists mercilessly in 2005. One day before the election, the police found hundreds of “ Taza bombs” from the den of Arabul at Bhangor. The police had to arrest him. His arrest could not stop the violence in Bhangore. His followers organised a severe violence on the day of poll. Entajul Molla, the opposition candidate, had been kidnapped during the polling and was later found to be in a seriously injured condition. Arabul group snatched the camera from press photographers, beat journalists who tried to cover the terror story.
Officials as Scapegoat
The State Election Commission ignored the advice of Calcutta High Court to arrange a proper security arrangement. The Commission repeatedly assured protection to voters and polling parties. But in reality, it completely failed to arrange a free and fair election. The State government and the Central government staff were engaged in polling duties. It was a deadly experience for them. The TMC cadre snatched nomination forms from the government staffs inside BDO and SDO offices. The Government officers witnessed inhuman torture, barbaric molestation of women and even of young staffs in front of their eyes. On the day of polling, they had to witness open booth capturing. At several places, the TMC hooligans tortured polling parties, if they tried to raise the voice of protest.
“They assured a job for my son”
Says Ranjit Pramanik, father of Sanjit Pramanik, who was caught by the villagers during booth capturing. Sanjit a post-graduate from Rabindra Bharati, accompanied a group of TMC activists to capture a booth at Babla Sardarpara village which is about 30 km from his residence at Sarbananda para of Shantipur town in Nadia district. A group of TMC men came from Shantipur town to Sardarpara village in a Car and motorcycles. A big group of villagers came out with bows and arrows and chased the offenders. Most of the goons escaped, yet villagers caught four of them.
“Now closer to normal than earlier times!”
People in the State were frustrated with atrocities of the Left parties during the first decade of the century. Intellectuals and civil society of West Bengal called for “Parivartan” (a change). Trinamool Congress was the only option before the people of West Bengal and TMC got the mandate in 2011. Less than a decade later, the TMC is no different from the CPM.