West Bengal panchayat polls updates: Voting in Cooch Behar, 18 other districts underway amid tight security

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West Bengal panchayat polls updates: Voting in Cooch Behar, 18 other districts underway amid tight security
  • 17:20 (IST)

    Rampant rigging, misuse of ballot papers should settle debate over EVMs once and for all 

    If the West Bengal panchayat polls has settled one debate, it is the specious and mischievous Opposition narrative on ballot papers. BJP's pan-Indian dominance had frustrated the Opposition to such an extent that Congress leaders (and many regional satraps started raising questions on EVMs and advocating a return to ballot papers. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, too, had joined the chorus, arguing that "EVMs can be tampered with, so let’s go back to the old system". The developments in West Bengal during the panchayat polls (where ballot papers were used instead of EVMs) showed conclusively which tool is vulnerable to exploitation and which isn't. Whereas the EVMs have ensured truly free and fair elections, a number of instances in Bengal regarding ballot papers proved how these can be easily misused to rig the polls.  

  • 16:03 (IST)

    SEC has not heeded to the gravity of the situation: BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya

    BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya says that SEC has been informed about the repeated incidents of violence but no one has heeded to the gravity of the situation. While enlisting the different cases in which BJP workers were attacked, he goes onto say how hard it is to have a fair election in a state where innumerable people have been disrupting counting.  

    He says people are ready to vote against TMC as soon as they get the chance to vote in a smooth, peaceful election.

  • 15:51 (IST)

    BJP reinforces status as principal Opposition force but remains distant second due to a cocktail of reasons

    It is always risky to read into results that are as skewed as those in West Bengal panchayat polls where the discourse has revolved around not whether there was free and fair elections but whether the number of political murders are less this time compared to earlier instances. Yet, the pattern that emerges even from such a subverted democratic exercise is the clear emergence of BJP as the principal Opposition force in Bengal. However, the fact remains that it is a distant second. Despite its upward curve, the party remains organisationally disjointed, structurally weak and severely lacking in leadership.

    It is a far cry from its presence elsewhere in India where BJP expands its base and organisational strength gradually and methodically. Its stunted growth in Bengal owes to two reasons. One, infighting within own ranks and two, inability to match up to TMC's vastly superior ground game. The difference between BJP's rise in Bengal and elsewhere in India is that while in other parts of the country it can grow relatively unhindered, in Bengal and Kerala it is facing organised and violent resistance from respective political rivals. In Kerala it is the Left, while in Bengal it is the TMC. 

    It isn't a coincidence that in both places Left is and was the dominant political force. While it continues to remain in power in the southern state, in Bengal it has been replaced by a party that has adopted many traits of Leftist ideological traits and has completely replaced the Left Front as a political and ideological force. Therefore, it can be said that TMC is a neo-Left (a tougher version under 'strong' leader who has an autocratic style of functioning). It is evident that BJP is finding it tough to expand in both places.

    However, it would be unwise to attribute Opposition's dismal performance to lack of strength alone. Even on counting day, incidents of violence are being reported from different parts of the state. Amid such a situation, BJP has done well in Purulia, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Malda and even in Jhargram. However, the pie chart of Bengal is overwhelmingly green, though the path to it has been paved through red.

  • 15:40 (IST)

    Police use tear gas shells to control tension in Cooch Behar's counting centre

    While police tried to control tension at a counting centre in Cooch Behar by firing tear gas shells, in Domjur people tried to rob ballot papers. TMC workers allegedly tried to appropriate and rip ballot papers, as a result of which police had to resort to lathicharge.- News 18

  • 15:23 (IST)

    Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad

    TMC is leading in 32 seats in Hooghly district and has won the seat of Raghunathpur. Opposition parties have not won any seats under zilla parishad so far. TMC won Purba Bardhaman zilla parishad.

  • 15:01 (IST)

    In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled amid tension

    In Nadia's Majdia, counting has been stalled as there has been reports of renewed tension Purulia's Nituria witnessed violence. 

  • 14:52 (IST)

    West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose says that only one party is not winning the elections

    West Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghose said only it is not a one-sided win for the ruling party, BJP is still a part of the race. 

  • 14:47 (IST)

    Machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes

    In 14 May elections for 621 zila parishad, 6,123 panchayat samity and 31,802 gram panchayat seats in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress is on the course to improve even its 2013 tally where it won zila parishads in 13 out of 17 districts, 1,745 out of 3,215 gram panchayat seats and 192 out of 329 panchayat samities. The current leads and trends reveal that the TMC is on course to gain at least 10 percent more seats in the three-tier panchayat polls establishing over 90 percent dominance.    

    Given the level of TMC's dominance and lack of Opposition strength, the question is why does the ruling party feel the need to indulge in such nihilism and mindless violence during polls. Even during the day of counting, disturbing reports are emerging from all across the state of subversion of democracy. In one place, machete-wielding goons are making away with ballot boxes while in some cases more ballot papers are discovered than the total number of voters, while in some cases ballot papers are allegedly being stamped while counting is one in full view of TV cameras. Already, 27 people have died (mostly Opposition political workers cutting across political divides) including a presiding officer whose mutilated body was discovered near railway tracks in North Dinajpur on Tuesday. 

  • 14:42 (IST)

    TMC wins Ranigunj which falls under Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency

    The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) wins Ranigunj Panchayat Samiti in Burdwan west district. Ranigunj is under BJP's Babul Supriyo's Lok Sabha constituency. In neighbouring Purulia, tension surfaced outside a counting centre in Kashipur where Opposition party candididates were allegedly trashed.- News 18

  • 14:32 (IST)

    Watch: Police lathi charge TMC, BJP workers who clashed outside a counting centre in Birbhum

West Bengal panchayat polls LIVE updates: Voting is underway in 568 polling booths across 19 of the 20 West Bengal districts for the Panchayati Raj institutions that went to the polls on 14 May. Voters began queuing up outside booths since the repolling began at 7 am.

Widespread violence during the panchayat polls in West Bengal on Monday left at least 12 people dead and 43 injured.

The state government and the police have been asked to make elaborate security arrangements so that polling can be held in a free and fair manner, the SEC official said.

Jhargram is the only district where there would be no repolling.

Uttar Dinajpur has the most booths (73) where the re-election will be conducted, followed by Murshidabad (63) and Nadia (60) while Aliporeduar (2) and West Burwan (3) have the least number of booths where repolling will be held.

Repolling will be held from 7 am till 5 pm.

Polling for electing 38,616 representatives across the three tiers of West Bengal rural bodies was held in more than 58,000 booths across the state on 14 May.

The SEC official also said that the final voting percentage of Monday had gone up to 82.13 percent from 73 percent.

Opposition parties have accused the TMC of "unleashing a reign of terror and destroying democracy". The TMC, however, has termed the allegations as "baseless".

Aggrieved by the violence that marked yesterday's panchayat polls in West Bengal, several candidates who were in the fray met State Election Commission (SEC) officials and demanded repolling in their booths.

"I have come here to inform the SEC about Monday's violence in my locality. Free and fair election did not take place in my area," said Etajul, an independent candidate from Bhangore in South 24 Parganas district.

Candidates from political parties also met the SEC officials to request repoll in their seats.

Various non-political organizations conducted sit-in demonstrations outside the SEC office in protest against Monday's violence.

West Bengal Panchayat Election RESULTS

Updated Date: May 17, 2018 17:20:33 IST

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