BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh Wednesday said arrested TMC leader Anubrata Mondal should be behind bars till the panchayat poll next year as his return to the political scene will lead to bloodshed during it.
Ghosh’s remark drew a sharp retort from the ruling TMC, which said it only proved that the arrest of Mondal by CBI in the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh was part of “BJP’s political game plan to keep him out of the politically crucial rural polls”.
The panchayat polls will be the last major litmus test for all the political parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“It is necessary that Anubrata Mondal stays behind the bars till the polls are over next year for the sake of peaceful panchayat polls. His release will only lead to bloodshed during the rural poll. The panchayat election should be held in the presence of central forces,” he told reporters.
Mondal, the TMC Birbhum district president, was arrested in August by CBI.
“We have seen the kind of violence that was unleashed in the 2018 panchayat polls by TMC. There cannot be free and fair polls if it is held under the state police,” Ghosh, who was the state BJP president from 2015 to 2021, said.
Hitting back, TMC said it only proves that Mondal was arrested as part of BJP’s strategy to keep him out of the rural polls.
“The cat is now out of the bag. It is proved that CBI arrested Mondal under the instructions of BJP to keep him out of the rural polls. If that is BJP’s strategy to win the coming panchayat election, then the entire TMC leadership should be put behind bars. Without it they (BJP) will not be able to win it,” TMC vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar said.
TMC had won the panchayat poll in Birbhum uncontested in 2018 and opposition parties had alleged that they were not allowed to file nominations.
In the 2013 panchayat poll central forces had manned every polling booth in the state and TMC, which was then two years into power in West Bengal, had won more than 80 per cent of the seats.
The TMC won 90 per cent of the panchayat seats in the state and all the 20 zilla parishads of the state in the 2018 rural poll which were marred by rampant violence and malpractices in the state.
The opposition had then alleged that it was not allowed to file nominations in several seats across the state.
Under the three-tier panchayat system in the state there are 825 seats spread across 20 zilla parishads, 9217 panchayat samities, and 48649 gram panchayat seats. The number of seats is, however, likely to go up in all the three tiers once the delimitation process gets over.
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