West Bengal Panchayat: Elections Stop Attacks, Restore Democracy & Democratic Rights
THE Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation All India Forward Bloc, Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), have issued the following statement on April 6, 2018
· Submission of nominations by Left Front and opposition candidates obstructed.
· Block and SDO offices are cordoned off by TMC armed gangs.
· Attacks on opposition activists and candidates in all districts.
· More than 200 people have been injured.
· State Election Commission is virtually defunct.
· Police is complicit in attacks on Left, not enforcing standing law and order rules.
There is an unprecedented attack on the basic democratic right to file nominations for the panchayat elections in West Bengal.
The ruling Trinamul Congress has resorted to a full-fledged assault on democracy and the rule of law by capturing the block development offices (BDOs), sub-divisional offices (SDOs) and even district magistrate offices in some districts to obstruct and drive away opposition candidates from filing nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections.
This is a form of pre-election rigging which makes the election a farce.
Since April 2, when filing of nominations began for all three phases of polling, the state has witnessed the shameful spectacle of TMC goons stationed at the administrative offices physically assaulting and chasing away candidates of the opposition and of the Left parties in particular.
Hundreds of Left and opposition candidates have been injured, their identity cards and other papers snatched away. In many places, offices of the parties have been raided by the TMC men to snatch away papers and to threaten people.
On April 5, Ramachandra Dome, former MP and a member of the Central Committee of CPI(M) who was leading a group of candidates to file nominations at Nalhati in Birbhum district was brutally attacked and suffered a head injury.
In all these attacks, the police have refused to intervene, or, are in connivance with the TMC men.
The time given for filing of nominations for all three phases is only between April 2-9. This is too short. At the same time, the time for withdrawals is also one week, unusually long. It is apprehended that this time will be used to intimidate opposition candidates to withdraw.
If the panchayat elections are not to be a farcical exercise, it is imperative that:
(i) All those who wish to file their nominations are allowed to do so without any fear and intimidation;
(ii) For this, the time for filing nominations should be extended wherever required;
(iii) Where candidates were prevented from filing nominations, alternative arrangements should be made for them to register their candidature in secure conditions.
(iv) Firm action should be taken against all those indulging in hooliganism, intimidation and encirclement of administrative offices.
The attacks going on in West Bengal are not just on the Left Front but on the entire opposition and strikes at the very roots of democracy.
We call upon all those who cherish democracy and democratic values to resist these attacks and assert their rights guaranteed under the constitution.