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Nomination assault charge

Calcutta, May 29: The first day of filing nominations for the panchayat polls was marked by Opposition allegations that several candidates could not submit papers because of attacks by Trinamul in the absence of proper security arrangements.

In Burdwan, Bankura, South 24-Parganas and Howrah, Trinamul activists allegedly heckled and assaulted Opposition candidates who had gone to block development offices to file nominations.

Similar allegations of arm-twisting and intimidation by the Left used to be levelled by Opposition parties when the combine was in power. In the 2008 panchayat polls, Trinamul had alleged that many of its candidates were not allowed to file nominations.

Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee today said the Left had won thousands of seats uncontested in the 2008 panchayat polls because the CPM “did not allow the Opposition candidates to file their nominations”.

“The CPM shouldn’t speak much, given its past record,” Chatterjee added.

Congress and CPM leaders alleged today that buses ferrying party candidates and supporters were stopped by ruling party activists near block development offices to prevent the candidates from filing nominations.

In some places, motorcycles carrying CPM candidates were allegedly stopped and asked to return without filing nominations. Some Left supporters, CPM leaders alleged, were robbed of their security deposits.

CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said: “We had earlier informed the state election commission that our candidates might be attacked by Trinamul during the nomination phase. Today, it turned out to be true. The commission could not ensure security for our nominees.”

A state election commission official said tonight that there were “adequate security arrangements for filing of nominations but we have got reports that many of them (police) did not take any action”.

Commission secretary Tapas Ray said this evening: “We have received several complaints. We are looking into them. We have spoken to the districts administrations concerned. They have relevant instructions.”

Altogether 33 companies of state police — 3,350 personnel — have been deployed across the state for the nomination process. The poll panel had wanted 300 companies of central forces for the nomination phase.

In Burdwan, only two of the 150 Congress candidates were able to file their nominations today, a party leader said.

According to the leaders, security personnel were “hardly visible” in front of the BDO offices.

Incidents of “Trinamul intimidation” were reported from Mangalkot, Burdwan Sadar, Memari, Raina, Khandagosh and Galsi in Burdwan.

Burdwan Congress president Azizul Haque said: “Our candidates were dragged out of the buses by Trinamul activists and forced to stay away from BDO offices. Our men had no choice but to leave without submitting nominations.”

In Barasul that falls under Burdwan Sadar, Trinamul activists put up barricades outside the BDO’s office and stopped Congress candidates from filing nominations. They beat up the candidates, one of whom, Jadav Bagh, had to be hospitalised.

A state Congress delegation led by state unit chief Pradip Bhattacharya today met governor M.K. Narayanan at Raj Bhavan and complained about “Trinamul attacks” on Congress nominees.

CPM leaders alleged that Trinamul activists roughed up Left cadres and prevented some nominees from filing their papers in South 24-Parganas’ Bhangar.

CPM district secretary Sujan Chakraborty said 10 party activists suffered injuries in “attacks” by Trinamul. “Some of our injured men have been hospitalised. Trinamul rowdies snatched the security deposits of some of our candidates,” Chakraborty added.

In Bankura, six CPM leaders, including four candidates, were allegedly beaten up by Trinamul workers. At Indus, alleged Trinamul activists stopped a Sumo in which three candidates were travelling, dragged them out and assaulted them, the CPM alleged.

In Bishnupur, alleged Trinamul activists beat up CPM zonal committee member Tapan Dutta and local committee member Surajit Mandal with sticks.

CPM candidates were allegedly heckled by Trinamul activists inside a block development office in Howrah’s Udaynarayanpur.

In East Midnapore’s Patashpur and Panskura, Trinamul workers allegedly assaulted two CPM nominees and snatched their papers.