Sunday, May 3, 2015

Farce Elections Produced Farce Results in West Bengal

Left Front Wins Siliguri, other Five Municiplaities
General Strike on 30th.

The farce, enacted in the name of elections in urban civic bodies in West Bengal, has been proved by the results it had actually produced.

Kolkata witnessed unprecedented reign of violence and terror on the polling day. From the early morning, news channels began to telecast the booth capturing and large scale attacks which culminated in hundreads of booths captured when the polling ended. The ruling party brought in criminals from other districts also. TMC specifically targeted areas where Left Front had won in 2010 elections or where they had a lead in Loksabha elections. In northern and north-east Kolkata, majority of booths suffered TMC attacks and by noon there were practically no genuine voters near the booths. The result showed that TMC won these wards with sky-rocketing margins, even in traditional Left stronghols of Beleghata and Maniktola.  In many wards, the votes of opposition parties have come down below 15 per cent!  In central areas of the city, TMC gangs forced the slum dwellers and minority people to stay inside their homes and with the help of police run over the booths. In this area, TMC has won almost all wards. Jadavpur, with a long legacy of left movement, was another area of their target. There were fierce attacks and strong resistance in the entire area. Countless numbers of people were injured in the attacks. TMC won 11 wards out of 14 in this area. TMC ‘won’ in 114 wards out of 144, while LF won in 15, BJP in 7, Congress in 6.

It is quite another phenomena that TMC suffered humiliating defeat in the ward where Mamata Banerjee is herself a resident.

In North 24 Parganas, the number of municipalities was 23. TMC won all of them. The score sheet of wards is testimony of the intensity of rigging. In Kanchrapara TMC won 22, Left Front (LF) 0; In Halisahar TMC won 21, LF 0, In Naihati TMC 31, LF 0, in Bhatpara TMC 33, LF1, in North Barackpore TMC 21, LF 1 , In Garulia TMC 17, LF 1, in Dum Dum TMC 21, LF 1, in Baranagar TMC32, LF 2, in New Barackpore TMC won 17, LF 1. Courageous resistance brought 8 wards for LF in North Dum Dum , 5 in Kamarhati. In the entire stretch from Baranagar to Kanchrapara, TMC armed gangs attacked countless booths, LF agents were chased away, unhindered use of guns and bombs were displayed. Except in pockets where people could steadfastly resist, EVM machines were in possession of ruling party’s hooligans. This devastating storm trooping was extended upto Kalyani in Nadia district where TMC did not allow any opposition to gain any seats. They won 21-0 there. Another bordering area, Haringhata the result was 19-0 in favour of TMC. In Gayeshpur, the next adjoining municipality LF candidates were forced to withdraw their nominations, candidates were kidnapped and large scale attack was organized before the elections. TMC won all 18 seats there.

Hooghly was another district where ruling party went for a rampage. In Arambagh and Tarakeswar, they forced opposition candidates to withdraw. As a result in Arambagh TMC won 19-0, in Tarakeswar 15-0. In industrial belt of Hooghly, there were continuous attacks during electioneering. And, on the day of elections bike-brone armed gangs roamed freely to capture booths one after another. The results manifested the widespread rigging. In Banshberia, TMC won 17, LF 2; in Rishra TMC won 19, LF 2, in Champdani TMC won 13, LF 1. In some of these municipalities, independent candidates won sporadically. There were strong resistance and peoples’ mobilization in Dankuni and Bhadreswar. In Dankuni, TMC could win 11 out of 21, and in Bhadreswar they failed to win majority of wards.

The people of Siliguri Corporation, the largest town after Kolkata, gave a strong rebuff to TMC and particularly to Chief Minister. Mamata Banerjee was said to have directed her party leaders to ‘win at any cost’. But, waves of rallies in the town warned the ruling party of any misadventure and the elections were mostly peaceful. Left Front won 23 wards out of total 47 and an independent extended his support to LF, thus paving the way for board formation. TMC got 17 seats, while Congress won in 4 and BJP in 2 wards. Urban Development minister in the Left Front government Ashok Bhattacharya contested polls and handsomely won. This is an important win for LF as they snatched this thriving centre of northern Bengal after five years of chaos and mismanagement.

In fact, in northern Bengal, wherever the polling was relatively free, LF has earned important gains. In Dinhata in Coochbehar district, LF retained with 13-3 majority. In Coochbehar town, LF was defeated 8-10. LF retained Jangipur and Jiaganj-Azimganj in Murshidabad district. LF won Back Dainhat in Burdwan district.

Left Front has called for a general strike and hartal on 30th April, protesting the massive rigging in municipal elections in the state. The 12-hour strike call came after whole sale booth capturing, violent attack on voters and opposition activists took place with help from police and state administration. Left Front has termed this election as a ‘farce’. For the first time in four years of TMC rule in West Bengal, Left Front has called for a total strike in the state.

Left Front Chairman Biman Basu and CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Misra have called upon all democratic-minded people to register their protest against this all out assault on democracy. SUCI(C), CPI(ML-Liberation) and other left parties have also extended support to the strike call.

Simultaneously, central trade unions have called for a general strike too on 30th April. On that day all India strike of the transport workers is scheduled. Along with that, almost all central trade unions in Bengal have called for a general strike against the attack on democratic rights of the workers and people. Apart from CITU, AITUC, TUCC, UTUC, the others like INTUC, HMS have issued joint call for the general strike. Trade unions have given the call for a 24 hour strike.

Mass organizations like AIKS, AIDWA, DYFI, SFI and others have joined in.

Blatant Attack on Democracy in West Bengal

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The elections to 91 municipalities including two corporations in West Bengal held on April 25, 2015 constitute a total mockery of democracy. In these and the election to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation a week earlier, there was a high degree of people’s enthusiasm and a large number of women turned out to cast their vote. However, these innocent people were met with political workers and armed hooligans representing the ruling party in the state, the Trinamool Congress, who denied them the right to a free and fair election. Polling booths were captured, opposition parties agents driven out and voting manipulated. A small contingent of central forces sent on the eve of the election were not deployed by the state government and instead sent for sightseeing. This is a blot on Indian democracy.

In various parts of the state there was widespread people’s resistance against such display of muscle power and manipulation of the democratic process. Many were injured and some are critical and are admitted to various hospitals in the state.

The CPI(M) calls upon the people of West Bengal who have a tradition of fighting against such authoritarian terror and who established a record of restoring democracy through people’s struggles to resist such attacks on democracy by the Trinamool Congress in the state.

A large number of intellectuals and people who had served in high constitutional positions in the country in the past have come together to form a Save Democracy Forum. Leading lights of the movement were also denied their legal right to vote.

The Election Commission of India must review these developments, though these fall under the purview of the State Election Commission and the state government. This is necessary to learn lessons and prepare for adequate arrangements when the state assembly elections are held in 2016.

Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015