Kolkata/Berhmapore: West Bengal saw a massive bloodbath during the one-phase panchayat elections on Monday as violent clashes between the ruling and Opposition parties left at least 17 people dead and many others injured across the districts. Even police personnel were not spared.
Bombs and bullets flew freely around polling booths while street fights became common in most places, puncturing the myth of tight security arrangements for the polling. The role of the West Bengal state election commission, which conducted the polls, was hardly visible as the situation spun out of control.
The Opposition parties accused the ruling Trinamul Congress of uncleashing the violence and adopting electoral malpractices, including rigging.
Concerned over the turbulent situation in the state, the Union home ministry has sought a report from the Mamata Banerjee government. Worried over the violence, governor Keshari Nath Tripathi will also send his own report to the Centre, Raj Bhavan sources said.
[In New Delhi, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the Trinamul Congress of unleashing a reign of terror during the panchayat polls, and dismissed the TMC's claim that violence had occurred during Left rule too, saying had it been true, Mamata Banerjee would never have come to power in the state. He was reacting after TMC leader Derek O'Brien said panchayat elections in the state had a history of violence and that the percentage of violence had come down compared to Left rule.]
Unlike the previous polls, this time the violence broke out much before the polling began. The most gruesome among the killings took place at Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas.
A couple was burnt to death late on Sunday night....