Kolkata: Reacting to many instances of violence during the panchayat elections in West Bengal, the Indian National Congress (INC) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM] have urged the Centre to impose President’s Rule in West Bengal.
An INC delegation led by Bengal party president Adhir Chowdhury met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at the Raj Bhawan to make the demand formal. “There is no democracy in the State at present. The panchayat election was turned into a farce. Ruling party workers rigged the counting process today. Under such circumstances, we have demanded that President’s Rule be imposed in the State to protect the democracy,” Chowdhury said, speaking to reporters outside Raj Bhawan.
The INC president said he would approach the High Court against the State Election Commission, which failed to stop the ruling Trinamool Congress from violating the commission’s assurance to the High Court that the panchayat elections free will be free and fair.
Until two days ago, the death toll in the Bengal panchayat elections had risen to 26. Eleven more people had died on Tuesday. Last Monday had witnessed several incidents of violence too. The dead included a presiding officer in North Dinajpur.
Wednesday saw re-polling in 573 booths all over the State. During the last panchayat poll held in 2013, re-polling had been held at 21 booths.
CPM leader Goutam Deb echoed the INC sentiment today when he said, “I see no other way out from the present situation than the imposition of the President’s Rule. The people have been denied their democratic right and it is time that a concrete step be taken to restore the democratic values the State.”
On the other hand, the BJP said imposing President’s Rule on Bengal would be premature. “There is still time to debate on whether Article 356 must be imposed. But we will fight till the end and it is evident from today’s election result that we are the only political party which is fighting against the ruling party. We will take the people of the State along with us in our fight,” said Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
On 24 April, however, BJP MP Babul Supriyo was in favour of invocation of Article 356 of the Constitution. He had tweeted:
Presidents Rule should be imposed in the State of West Bengal with immediate effect • It’s not about attacks against any political party, it’s attack by the State GOVERNMENT, yes, the DiDi-LED-TMC Govt. against democracy & humanity.. Mamta Banerjee must meet her Political END
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) April 23, 2018