THE process of filing nomination papers for the three tier panchayat elections in Tripura concluded on July 8 with widespread incidents of violence. The state election commission here, as was apprehended in an earlier column, completely failed to provide security and an atmosphere of free and fair election to the opposition.
The figures of candidates from different political parties themselves are proof enough to show how the opposition has been barred from taking part in the election.
Out of 6,111 seats of 591 gram panchayats, BJP fielded candidates in 6,127. Left Front fielded candidates in 412, INC in 727. Out of 419 seats of 35 panchayat samitis (block level) BJP filed nomination papers for all the seats. CPI(M) in 93, CPI in 2, INC in 74, independent and others in 7 . Out of the 116 seats of 8 zila parishads while BJP fielded candidates in all, Left Front has filed nomination papers in 93, INC in 81, independent and others in 7 each.
On July 7, a group of bike borne miscreants of the BJP attacked the houses of CPI(M) candidates in West Chandrapur gram panchayat of Dharmanagar, North Tripura district. When local people, including women came out unitedly to resist them, the hoodlums had to flee away after people gave them a good thrashing. In retaliation, BJP hoodlums in Dharmanagar town attacked the CPI(M) North Tripura district and Dharmanagar subdivision committee office. They vandalised all the furniture and valuables in the office. District committee secretary Amitabha Dutta, Dharmanagar Municipal Council chairman Shakti Bhattacharya and others were physically assaulted. Then they attacked houses of subdivision committee secretary Abhijit Dey, Party leaders Nandu Bhattacharya and Chayan Bhattacharya.
In Satchand RD Block of South Tripura, CPI(M) candidates were not even allowed to register their names for filing nomination papers. In Boxanagar Block of Sepahijala district, the cars the CPI(M) candidates were using were obstructed at several places to prevent them from reaching the office. They had to come back without filing nomination papers.
In Gournagar gram panchayat of Kailashahar of Unakoti district, the autorickshaw of Anwar Ali was gutted in the dead of the night on July 6, as he had filed nomination papers as a CPI(M) candidate.
The attitude of the ruling party is clear. It doesn’t want the opposition to contest at all in the rural local bodies so that the BJP doesn’t have to face any opposition in the election. It speaks volumes about the diminishing public support it had garnered during the last assembly elections.
The readers of this column are well aware of how the BJP made a total travesty of the bye-elections to the panchayat elections few months back where they won 96 per cent of the seats uncontested by not allowing the opposition, especially the Left to file nomination papers. The same was repeated in the bye-elections to the vacant seats of urban local bodies.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, the polling to the West Tripura seat was marred by allegations of widespread incidents of violence, false voting and rigging. It’s clear that the present BJP government in the state doesn’t want any election to happen in a free and fair manner.
Now even as the filing of nomination papers is over, the goons of the ruling party are issuing threats to the opposition candidates to withdraw from contesting.
Tripura Left Front committee, in a statement issued on July 8, has said that in all these cases of obstruction to file nomination papers, attacks, threats and intimidation, the police has played a role of silent spectator. Despite the Left Front delegation meeting the state election commission to ensure free, fair and peaceful election and providing a level playing field for all, the commission has miserably failed to take any effective step to this end. Making illegal use of the police and administrative machinery, the BJP is aggressively trying to make a total farce of these elections. The Left Front denounced these undemocratic and authoritarian measures of the BJP. It reiterated its demand that effective and stern actions be taken against the ruling party hoodlums who are indulging in fascist like terror tactics against the voters, candidates and their proposers.
Arrest Mob Lynching Gangs
THE Tripura state committee of the CPI(M) has strongly condemned the brutal killing of Budhiram Tripura (36 years old), who was a resident of Noapara under Raishyabari police station, in Dhalai district on July 2. Budhiram was lynched by a mob that alleged that he was trying to steal cattle.
The reason given to kill Budhiram is absolutely false. The video that has been circulated in various social media and TV channels shows that hands and legs of Budhiram Tripura were tied up and he was beaten up mercilessly. Though injured Budhiram was repeatedly asking for drinking water, the enraged mob continued beating him up and finally he succumbed to his injuries.
There were several incidents of mob-lynching in the state after the formation of the BJP-IPFT alliance government. Last year (2018), as a result of provocation made by a cabinet minister, a hawker of Uttar Pradesh who was a cloth trader was ruthlessly killed by the furious mob, falsely castigating him to be ‘child-lifter’ under Simna PS in West Tripura district. Similarly, one mentally-retarded aged woman of Badharghat area of Sadar sub-division, a working woman of Bishalgarh sub-division, another person of Boxanagar under Sonamura sub-division and a ‘tabla’teacher of Subroom sub-division were mob-lynched last year. Except in the case of killing of Sukanta Chakraborty- ‘tabla’ teacher, none of the perpetrators or the provocateurs have been arrested. Though the Supreme Court of India has directed all the states to take stern measures against mob-lynching, the government of Tripura hardly took any step against the culprits. The latest incident of mob-lynching that took place at Rashyabari on July 2 is anticipated to face the same fate. The above incident again vindicates that the rule of law in the state is just non-existent.
The CPI(M) demands immediate arrest of those who killed Budhiram Tripura and also those who were responsible for similar incidents of mob lynching in the past. The CPI(M) calls upon all the rational-minded people to stand in protest against such inhuman barbarism.