New Delhi: Violence and corruption were Bengal’s two enemies, Governor C.V. Anand Bose said Tuesday as West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress looked poised to win the panchayat elections.
Bose, who has been in the cross hairs of the Trinamool for his public rebukes, added “political parties should realize that elections were not the grounds to examine one’s physical strength”.
Counting of votes to nearly 74,000 panchayat seats began amid tight security Tuesday morning in 339 venues spread across the state’s 22 districts.
Till 5.30 pm, the Election Commission said the Trinamool was leading in 18,332 gram panchayat seats. Its nearest rival BJP was leading in 4,592 seats out of the 63,329 gram panchayats.
Votes were simultaneously being counted to 928 zila parishads and 9,728 panchayat samitis.
Opposition BJP on Tuesday called the violence “state-sponsored” and claimed that 45 people have died so far in the election process.
Party spokesperson Sambit Patra told the media that these killings were “institutional murders”.
There was widespread violence on poll day – 8 July — amid allegations of tampering with ballot boxes which led to the deaths of 13 people.
Repolling was conducted in 696 booths across 19 districts Monday where voting was declared void due to the violence.
Governor Bose met Union Home Minister Amit Shah shortly after repolling was conducted. About the discussions with Shah, Bose said: “At the appropriate time, in an appropriate manner, the appropriate decision will certainly be available to the media.”
He added: “I am very emphatic. Violence is there. Violence has to be contained. It should be a common effort. We may not be able to achieve anything overnight, but the process has to continue… We will relentlessly pursue our campaign against violence in society.
The Trinamool, on the other hand, has accused the Governor of fanning violence and abusing his power to influence people’s opinion. Leader Kunal Ghosh said on poll day that Bose “selectively visited victims from Opposition parties, despite the majority of deaths being that of Trinamool workers”.
“Moreover, he’s delivering political speeches wherever he goes. Why is a nominated person influencing people’s opinion from a position of power?” Ghosh asked.
Meanwhile, a committee of BJP parliamentarians — headed by former law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — is expected to visit Bengal to probe the cases of violence and present a report to party president J.P. Nadda.
While Prasad is the “fact-finding” committee’s convener, the other members are former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, Rajdeep Roy and party vice-president Rekha Verma.