Tripura: CPI(M) Says BJP Attacked Candidates for Urban Local Body Polls, Forced Withdrawal

The Trinamool Congress also alleged that despite submitting evidence to the police, action has not been initiated against those who attacked the party's candidates.

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Agartala: As the forthcoming urban local bodies’ election approaches in Tripura, the major opposition party CPI(M) has alleged that the Left Front had to withdraw 17 candidates after “BJP sheltered goons” unleashed a series of attacks across the state.

Speaking with The Wire CPI(M) state committee secretary Jitendra Choudhury said that a total of 20 first information reports (FIRs) were registered by the police in different parts of the state after miscreants backed by the BJP carried out attacks on party candidates and workers.

The public relations officer of Tripura police Jyotshiman Das Choudhury has said that some cases were registered on the basis of these complaints, including regarding police violence. They are being investigated, he said.

Earlier on October 22, the State Election Commission (SEC) of Tripura announced that elections to 20 urban local bodies will be held on November 25. A total of 770 polling stations would be set up in these 20 urban local bodies.

“Election means all political parties will receive equal rights to fight the election. And the Election Commission of India or the SEC is responsible to create a conducive atmosphere. We are observing that after the formation of the BJP-IPFT government, they (the ruling parties) started thinking that the SEC is their own department. The police are totally under the control of the BJP and in these circumstances, the elections are being held,” Choudhury said in a recently held press conference.

He alleged that soon after the poll dates were announced, BJP-backed goons started a series of attacks on Left Front candidates.

“Attacks on candidate’s houses and threats in the presence of police were reported in many places. The police are silent. BJP goons also captured the returning officer’s office in Ranirbazar, Jirania in the West district, Kamlapur in the Dhalai district, Udaipur in the Gomati district, Bishalgarh in the Sepahijala district and Santirbazar in the South district. We couldn’t file nomination papers in these places. We brought this to the notice of the police, the SEC and the district magistrates but nothing has happened,” he said.

He informed that in 13 urban local bodies that are going to the polls, around 34 workers and supporters of CPI(M) – including 4 candidates – came under attack, for which 20 FIRs were registered but not a single person has been arrested.

“They (‘BJP backed goons’) looted the house, vehicles were vandalised. About 20 houses and shops were vandalised and looted. In addition, 17 of our candidates were forced to withdraw as their house, their family members came under attack. All these attacks occurred in the areas of ruling ministers and MLAs. This is not strength, this is a weakness. They are isolated from people,” he said.

A total of 785 candidates from different political parties, including the BJP, CPI(M), Congress and Trinamool Congress are in the fray for the election. A total of 36 party-backed candidates withdrew their nomination papers. The Left Front saw 17 of its candidates withdraw, including 15 from the CPI(M) and two from the All India Forward Bloc. In addition, eight Congress candidates, four Trinamool Congress candidates and seven independent candidates also withdrew.

Subsequently, the BJP goes into the polls uncontested in 112 seats of the total 334. The uncontested seats fall mostly in five municipal councils – Mohanpur, Ranirbazar, Udaipur, Bishalgarh and Santirbazar – and in Jirania and Kamalpur Nagar panchayats. It is in these areas that the CPI(M) has alleged their candidates could not file their nominations or had to withdraw them due to violence by the ruling party workers.

The last date of submitting nomination papers was November 3, while the last date for candidates to withdraw their candidature was November 8. The polls will be held on November 25 from 7 am to 4 pm and counting will take place on November 28 from 8 am.

TMC also files cases

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday gheraoed the police headquarters, protesting the role of the Tripura police in the violence.

Speaking with reporters, TMC MP Sushmita Dev said that her party has also filed a series of FIRs mentioning the names of the BJP miscreants who attacked their candidates. She said no action has been initiated by the police.

“We have evidence about who is attacking the candidates of Trinamool Congress. Why is Tripura police not taking any action? Why have no arrests been made? We want to know why the hand of the police are tied. The TMC has started gaining massive support from people and that is the reason the BJP’s miscreants are attacking our candidates. We will not step back,” Sushmita said.

She claimed that the police are working to protect the BJP and not to protect democracy.

BJP denies allegation

Rubbishing the opposition’s allegations, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya told The Wire that no one from the party has pressured the CPI(M) candidates to withdraw their nomination papers.

“The CPI(M) is now isolated from people. We didn’t attack nor do we create any pressure to withdraw the nomination paper. Why they withdrew it, only they know. We also don’t want to win without contesting. It is happening because the opposition has been rejected by the people.”

He accused the CPI(M) of making baseless excuses. He claimed that under the CPI(M)’s rule, the police and administration were under the government’s control but are now “working freely and independently”.