Keep your bamboo sticks oiled for panchayat elections: Dilip Ghosh

The president of the West Bengal unit of the BJP accused the State Election Commission of fixing such dates for the panchayat elections that would put the ruling Trinamool Congress at an advantage while inconveniencing the opposition parties

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Dilip Ghosh

Kolkata: BJP’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh has accused the State Election Commission of taking dictations from the Trinamool Congress government of West Bengal. “This is the state of governance in Bengal,” Ghosh remarked after the panchayat election dates were announced.

The BJP leader said, “The State government had, in consultation with the State Election Commission, determined beforehand when these elections would take place. The dates have been announced in a manner that pre-empts the opposition’s opinions about the panchayat election.”

The panchayat elections of this year in 20 districts of West Bengal is scheduled to take place in three phases in May. The elections in 20 districts across the state will be held on 1, 3 and 5 May.

The counting of votes of all the 20 districts will take place on 8 May.

The dates were announced on Saturday after delegates of the State Election Commission had had a meeting with the chief secretary at Nabanna, the West Bengal Chief Minister’s office.

In West Bengal, there are 3,358 village panchayats with 48,751 seats, 341 panchayat samitis with 9,240 seats and 20 zila parishads with 825 seats. There are around 58,000 booths across the State.  In February, the commission had sought 425 senior IAS and West Bengal Civil Services officers to be deployed as observers for “free and fair” panchayat polls, a demand that had led to face-off with the government in 2013.

“Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had started the Trinamool Congress campaign for these panchayat elections before this announcement. So, the ruling party is not inconvenienced by this sudden announcement of dates. On the other hand, there is no time left for us to campaign. Let’s see what we can do despite this,” Ghosh said.

Elsewhere, in Raninagar of the Jalpaiguri district, Ghosh made an odd statement. In a public meeting of the local BJP cadre, he said, “I appeal to the booth guards of our party to be prepared on the day of the vote with oiled bamboo sticks. Camp in the villages. If you see a stranger loitering around, interrogate him. If the son-in-law of someone who lives in the village enters it, ask him to come some other day. Tell him, ‘Come tomorrow; we will offer you machh-bhat (rice with fish curry). If you try to enter the village today, you will be beaten up’.”

Clearly issuing a threat of violence, Ghosh added that if some stranger tried to enter the villages that go to polls on the polling days, the person should be packed off to a hospital.

Ghosh was the in-charge of the RSS in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He worked as an assistant to former RSS chief KS Sudarshan. He was first appointed as the West Bengal State general secretary of the BJP. In 2015, Ghosh was selected as West Bengal State President of the BJP.