The Indian Secular Front (ISF), which is emerging as a force in Muslim pockets of West Bengal, performed well in its stronghold of Bhangar (South 24 Parganas district) in the panchayat elections, the result for which was declared on Tuesday.
The party in alliance with the CPI(M) and an anti-land acquisition committee gave the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress a neck-and-neck fight in the area.
On the polling day, Bhangar witnessed incidents of intimidation, barricading of Opposition candidates and voters, blockading of villages, missing Opposition agents and hurling of crude bombs. In the run-up to the campaign, Bhangar was one of the epicentres of violence as three people were killed there.
Of a total of 218 seats from 10 gram panchayats of Bhangar-II block, the TMC won from 86 without a contest. Of the 132 seats that went to the polls, the TMC won 63, ISF 43, Jomi Jibika Bastutantra Poribesh Rokkha Committee 18, CPIM 7 while one was bagged by an independent candidate.
Jomi Jibika Bastutantra Poribesh Rokkha Committee leader Mirza Hakim said, “The results show that the people of Bhangar rejected the TMC. They stopped us from filing nominations from 86 seats. We have filed a case in this regard in the Calcutta High Court. If we get verdict in our favour, we will win the majority of 86 seats also.”
“The TMC knew that they will lose if elections were held in a democratic manner. So they unleashed terror since the nomination process started. The Opposition did well wherever they overcame terror and violence. Bhangar results show who people voted for,” ISF MLA from Bhangar Naushad Siddiqui said.
TMC leader Arabul Islam, however, said, “We won nine out of 10 gram panchayats. It does not matter if we lost some of the seats .”