Sunday, July 14, 2024

Over 66% turnout in ‘bloody’ panchayat polls in Bengal; death toll 15 (2nd Ld)

The single-phase panchayat elections concluded in West Bengal on Saturday with a voter turnout of 66.28, with as many as 15 persons losing their lives in poll-related violence across the state.

The maximum number for deaths was reported from Murshidabad district at five, followed by two each in Cooch Behar, East Burdwan, Malda and North Dinajpur districts, and one each in South 24 Parganas and Nadia districts.

With this, a total of 34 persons have lost their lives in poll-related violence since the announcement of polling date on June 8.

Although officially the polling concluded at 5 p.m., in certain areas voting continued after the scheduled deadline as people were waiting in queues to cast their votes.

In an apparent attempt to shed his responsibility for the bloodbath, State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha said:“No one can predict who will shoot whom and when. Preventing violence is the responsibility of those who are posted at the district level. The task of the commission is to make arrangements for the polls,” Sinha said.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry has sought a report from the state government over the bloodbath on polling day.

BJP President J.P. Nadda also spoke to the party’s state unit chief Sukanta Majumdar over phone and gathered updates about the day’s proceedings.

Trinamool Congress leaders, including state ministers Sashi Panja, Bratya Basu and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, however, claimed that barring some stray incidents, the polling process was overall peaceful.

They also claimed that the maximum number of casualties was reported from the Trinamool camp, which proves that it was the opposition parties that indulged in violence to portray the state bad light.

While Panja accused the central forces personnel on poll duty of making attempts to influence the voters to vote for a particular party, Ghosh accused the media of creating an anti-Trinamool narrative.

The leader of opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, squarely blamed State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha for the bloodbath on polling day, calling him a ‘partner-in-crime’.

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