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"TMC hooliganism... openly looting ballots": BJP's Sukanta Majumdar

Kolkata: With violence and deaths reported from across West Bengal in the Panchayat polls on Saturday a war of words escalated between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Trinamool Congress.
BJP state chief Sukanta Majumdar alleged that "TMC hoologanism crossed all limits" and that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along with the Chief Electoral Officer of the state were "responsible" for murders.
"Bloodshed in West Bengal in Panchayat Election. TMC candidate killed an independent Muslim candidate in North 24, Parganas dist. TMC knows only language of violence, murder and booth capturing. CM @MamataOfficial along with @CEOWestBengal is responsible for these murders," he said.
Sharing a video on the micro-blogging site, Majumdar said claimed that the workers of the TMC have looted the ballots from many polling booths in the state.
"TMC hooliganism has crossed all the limits and is now stifling democracy by looting ballots openly in the West Bengal Panchayat elections," he said.
Majumdar further accused the West Bengal government and the state polling body of "hoodwinking" the court's order which directed deployment of central forces in all the districts.
"On the one hand, the SEC is reluctant to deploy the central forces. On the other hand, civil volunteers are deployed for election duty. This clearly shows that the state govt and SEC have hoodwinked the courts. Is SEC silently facilitating the booth capturing by TMC goons?" he tweeted.
Meanwhile, State Shashi Panja asked why central forces have "failed to protect the citizens".
"TMC workers have been murdered, two have been shot at. Those who were asking for deployment, saying that these central forces are the guardians of peace - the guardians have failed, faltered to protect the rights of citizens," Panja said.
Claiming that "shocking" and "tragic" incidents have unfolded ahead of the Panchayat elections in West Bengal, the minister said, "The BJP, CPI(M) and Congress had colluded together and were clamouring for Central forces. Where is the deployment? Why have the central forces failed to protect the citizens?"
The Trinamool Congress alleged that three of its party workers were "murdered" in multiple incidents of violence in the State after polling for the single-phase panchayat elections began this morning.
"Shocking and tragic incidents send shockwaves through the voting community. Three of our party workers have been murdered in Rejinagar, Tufanganj and Khargram and two have been left wounded from gunshots in Domkol," tweeted the All India Trinamool Congress.
The panchayat elections are underway for a single phase, with the counting of votes scheduled on July 11.
The polls are likely to see a fierce tussle for control of local administrations between the ruling TMC and the BJP and will be a litmus test for both parties ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections.
Around 5.67 crore voters are likely to exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 928 seats across 22 zilla parishads, 9,730 panchayat Samiti, and 63,239-gram panchayats seats.
West Bengal has 3,341 gram panchayats and the number of village panchayat election centres is 58,594. There are 63,239 seats at the Gram Panchayat level, 9730 at Panchayat Samiti and 928 at the Zila Parishad level.
In 2018, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won uncontested, 34 per cent of the seats in panchayat elections, which also saw various instances of violence. Trinamool Congress has won many seats uncontested in the 2023 elections as well. (ANI)

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