Amid accusations and counter-allegations over violence during the West Bengal panchayat election held on Saturday, the Trinamool Congress has hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party IT-cell head Amit Malviya for allegedly running a “misinformation campaign” over capturing booths.
While violence rocked Bengal’s rural polls, leaving 18 people dead, ballot boxes vandalised and bombs thrown at rivals in a number of villages, a war of words broke out on social media between the ruling TMC and opposition BJP, which blamed each other over the ruckus .
In the tweets, Malviya shared a video and alleged, “Mamata Banerjee has reduced democracy to a joke in Bengal. In Diamond Harbour, her nephew’s LS, villagers found stamped ballot papers in Netra GP, Booth No-5. TMC captured booth last night and ‘completed’ voting. SEC is in contempt of Court orders. No security, no CCTV cameras…”
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is an MP from the Diamond Harbor Lok Sabha constituency under South 24 Parganas.
Hitting back at Malviya, actor-TMC MP Nusrat Jahan tweeted, “Oh look, another day, another reminder of how detached @BJP4India leaders are from Bengal’s political landscape. Netra GP’s jurisdiction is under Mathurapur Lok Sabha constituency and not Diamond Harbor as @amitmalviya’s would have you believe. Unfortunately, his IT Cell can’t tweak facts to spread propaganda. This misinformation campaign has to stop!”
Saturday’s events were in keeping with the state’s history of violent rural elections including the 2003 panchayat polls which gained notoriety for its death toll of 76 during the course of the poll process, with more than 40 killed on the day of the elections.
Debangshu Bhattacharya, state in charge of TMC’s new social media cell, also reacted to Malviya’s tweet, calling the latter an “expert in spreading fake news”.
“Mr MOUTHPIECE of @BJP4India, @amitmalviya ji, Netra Gram Panchayat doesn’t fall under Diamond Harbor Parliamentary Constituency. An expert in SPREADING FAKE NEWS, he continues to ACT AS A CAGED PARROT even on the day of the elections. SHAMEFUL!” Bhattacharya tweeted.
Saturday’s events were in keeping with the state’s history of violent rural elections including the 2003 panchayat election which gained notoriety for its death toll of 76 during the course of the poll process, with over 40 killed on the day of the elections.
30 dead since poll schedule announced
With 37 dead since the polls were announced earlier last month, this year’s bloodied election also closely followed the 2018 panchayat poll violence pattern when a similar number of people were left dead.
The poll body was initially opposed to the idea of deploying additional forces and was even pulled up by the Calcutta high court. In a state where violence at the booth level is deeply seeped in the political culture, the election watchdog ought to have been much more competent and serious about its responsibility.
In the last 2018 panchayat polls 23 people died across Bengal, with 12 of them losing their lives on the day of poll.
The results are scheduled to be announced on July 11 but the Opposition, including the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Congress, demanded a repoll at a large number of polling booths. The Congress moved the Calcutta high court seeking action against state election commissioner (SEC) Rajiva Sinha, who was earlier pulled up by the court for not taking enough steps to stop pre-poll violence that claimed 19 lives between June 8 and July 7.