The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Now, Bloc cries hoarse over rural ‘foul play’

Calcutta, May 19: The Forward Bloc today joined the bandwagon of parties protesting the unfairness of the just-concluded panchayat poll.

Echoing Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress, the Bloc today said the poll was not “free and fair” as the CPM had resorted to “violence”.

“After the election, the CPM is not only collecting jijiya kar (extortion money) amounting to Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 from those who have won this time defeating its nominees, but even setting their houses on fire and looting their belongings to terrorise them,” agriculture minister Kamal Guha, a Bloc leader, said.

“The violence has already claimed 30 lives and if steps are not taken immediately, another 500 people will die in the coming days,” he said.

At a meet-the-press programme at the Press Club here, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the government would be more “careful about containing the violence in the districts”.

With Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh by his side, Guha, also the party chairman, told reporters at their central Calcutta office that the CPM resorted to “unfair means” to get its candidates elected.

Polling officials in two villages of Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district, where Bloc nominees won, were terrorised, he said. “We had lodged a written complaint with state CPM secretary Anil Biswas seeking justice but nothing has been done so far.”

According to Guha, “a class of people with black money” won the poll this time with backing from the CPM. “We promised to transfer power to the people through the panchayats in 1977, but after 26 years, they are being unfortunately controlled by those having money-power. This is a betrayal of the people.”

Another front partner, the RSP, had been complaining about the CPM’s “terror” ploy since the run-up to the rural poll.

Jayanta Roy, a senior Bloc secretariat member, went a step further, complaining that the government had failed to fulfil its “constitutional obligations” by allowing police to play a “partisan role” while trying to contain violence in the districts.

“The police are taking sides with the CPM to help its activists go scot free, while our people are being arrested indiscriminately,” Roy alleged.

He, however, evaded a straight reply when asked if he would seek Central intervention under Article 356, like Trinamul.

Stepping in for Roy, Ghosh said: “We are not calling it a constitutional breakdown, but we must register our complaint against a section of policemen for unleashing violence after the poll.” The Bloc, he said, would launch a statewide movement.

Ghosh said the CPM was behind the killing of the elected Bloc nominee in Birbhum and the arrest of two party leaders at Uluberia in Howrah.

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