Kolkata: Even before the May 14 local body elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party has won a stunning 34 per cent seats unopposed. There were no opposition candidates for these seats by the time nominations closed on Saturday, which means a walkover for the Trinamool Congress.
- West Bengal Panchayat elections are on May 14
- Trinamool Congress has won 34 per cent of 58,692 seats unopposed
- Opposition claims candidates couldn't file nominations due to "terror"
Without a single vote being cast, the Trinamool has won over 20,000 of 58,692 Panchayat seats in the state - the highest number to go uncontested in Bengal's history. In all these seats, the opposition either withdrew candidates or had failed to complete paperwork.
"Without the eggs hatching, chicken are born," said Bengal Congress chief, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. "This is a glaring example of the mockery of democracy, an eloquent testimony of the butchery of electoral rights of the common people," he commented.
Ever since the polls were announced, opposition parties have been in and out of court claiming their candidates were unable to file nominations because of violence and "terror" by the ruling party.
The election body accepted the nomination of nine candidates on WhatsApp after they complained that they were not being allowed near the filing centre. Earlier this month, bikers waving swords, daggers, knives and axes drove into the office of a district magistrate in Birbhum just before the filing of nominations were to start for the day. It is not known what party they belonged to.
The election commission that day scrapped nominations, seemingly under pressure from the government.
The court ordered an additional day of nominations to help candidates who couldn't submit their documents. But there was violence again on the new date, and one person was killed in Birbhum.
By then, the ruling party had filed over 72,000 nominations, the BJP around 35,000, the Left 22,000 and the Congress 10,000.
Birbhum is among the districts with the highest number of uncontested seats.
On Saturday, the last day for withdrawing nominations, the Trinamool took back 10,000 nominations; it had filed almost 15,000 more than the number of seats.
This is not the first time seats have been won uncontested by ruling parties in the Panchayat polls.
In 2013, the Trinamool had won over 10 per cent of the seats unopposed.
Ten years before that, it was the Left that had won 11 per cent of the Panchayat seats without contest.
Mamata Banerjee's party has surpassed the Left's record three times over.
Accused of terror tactics, the Trinamool has said that opposition parties have no connect with people on the ground and are therefore unable to find candidates to field.
Opposition parties are back in the High Court challenging the decision to hold one-day polling instead of three days as announced earlier. Opposition parties have petitioned the court expressing concern over security during the election.
"The poll has turned into a war," former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said in Kolkata on Sunday. The state Election Commission, he said, had violated a court order to talk to all stakeholders to ensure peaceful polls.