ELECTIONS to six municipal bodies in West Bengal, which was marked by terror, reflected signs of discontent against the TMC government.
It was particularly manifest in Left Front’s win in Haldia in East Midnapore district. It was here that the anti-Left Front anarchy reached its crescendo since the days of Nandigram. Trinamool Congress wrested East Midnapore district council in 2008, won the parliamentary seats in 2009 and all assembly constituencies of the district in 2011. Right from 2009, incessant attacks have been launched against CPI(M) in Haldia. After 2011, the trade unions in this industrial and port town were made a special target. CPI(M) offices were destroyed or captured, hundreds of workers were chased away from their workplaces. The reign of terror was led by TMC Lok Sabha member Subhendu Adhikary who proclaimed that there would be no one in Haldia to hold Red flags. Frontline CPI(M) leaders were jailed under false cases.
During the elections to the municipal body, CPI(M) and Left Front could not conduct peaceful campaign even for a single day. Candidates were threatened with dire consequences, their families attacked. As Congress had no alliance with TMC, their candidates and potential candidates were also attacked. Congress candidates had to withdraw nomination after their family members were kidnapped. Left Front conducted determined, door-to-door campaign. Even on the day of elections, TMC hoodlums raided different areas to threaten people, though they faced resistance from the poorer sections.
The people of Haldia rebuffed the TMC and the Left Front retained the municipality with a 15-11 margin. Out of these, 14 were won by CPI(M) and 1 by CPI. In three wards, Left Front candidates were defeated narrowly, with margins of 40 to 52 votes only. Left Front chairman Biman Basu congratulated the people of Haldia and said that they have silently rejected the politics of terror.
The dejection of the TMC with the defeat in Haldia was very much evident. Immediately after the results were declared, TMC activists attacked the car of Tamalika Panda Seth, CPI(M) leader and outgoing chairperson of the municipal body. CPI(M) activists were attacked in different places. CPI(M) local committee office in Haldia was ransacked.
In nine wards of Durgapur Municipal Corporation, TMC went into full-scale terrorisation. CPI(M) booth camps were attacked. In many wards, TMC activists entered into booths and took control of EVMs. CPI(M) polling agents were not allowed to enter. Booth capturing took place in many wards. TMC activists started terrorising the people from the night before. They threatened voters not to come out of houses, particularly in areas where Left has a strong presence. In some wards, police helped TMC and chased away voters from the queue. Practically, Durgapur witnessed a serious attack on the democratic rights of the people.
The Left Front has demanded repoll in 29 booths in Durgapur where CPI(M) polling agents were chased away and voters were dispersed by TMC anti-socials brought from outside the city. TMC won this corporation with 29 seats while Left Front won in 11 seats. The Congress and BJP won a seat each, while an independent won a seat.
In Panshkura, the atmosphere was vitiated. There also Left Front cadre and even Congress cadre were not allowed to campaign freely. TMC threatened to ‘whitewash’ the opposition. TMC retained the municipality winning 12 seats while Left Front bagged 5. CPI(M) won 3 seats while CPI bagged 2. TMC’s outgoing chairman was defeated by CPI candidate. Congress failed to get any seat here.
Another setback to the TMC occurred in Congress’ hand at Coopers Camp when the latter won 11seats out of 12. Congress maintained their hold on the notified area body despite all out aggressive campaign against them by their partner in the state government. Top leaders of the both the parties were engaged in bitter exchange in Coopers Camp as well as in Nalhati in Birbhum district. TMC retained this board with thin margin, winning 8 seats while Left Front won 3, Congress 3 and BJP 1. Here too TMC’s outgoing chairman was defeated in two seats despite every attempt to get him through. In a ward, Left Front candidate was even arrested the night before the voting day and was freed on bail only in the next afternoon that too after a rebuff from court. Widespread discontent was reflected in Nalhati.
Left Front suffered defeat in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district. Election process was more or less peaceful here. But TMC took no chance and just before the elections they admitted Kamtapur Peoples’ Party leader Mitali Roy in their fold. KPP is a secessionist party demanding separate Kamtapur state for quite long time. TMC won 11 and Left Front 4 seats while BJP won in a ward.
Biman Basu alleged that in many areas of these six municipalities, people were terrorised and normal democratic atmosphere was lacking. TMC unleashed violence before and even after the declaration of results. This was an ominous sign for civil rights in the state.
Suryakanta Misra, leader of opposition, termed the entire results as ‘Yellow card’, a warning to TMC and its government. “If they do not mend their ways, people will show them Red card in the future”, said Misra. He also alleged that the ruling party has started fearing people within a year of assuming power. This is the reason behind their terror tactics in civic elections.
10th June, 2012