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Dilip Ghosh, TMC strikes back

BJP’s national vice president Dilip Ghosh said on Wednesday that arrested TMC leader Anubrata Mondal should be behind bars until next year’s panchayat poll as his return to the political scene will lead to bloodshed during it.

Ghosh’s comment sparked a sharp response from the ruling TMC, who said it only proved Mondal’s arrest by the CBI for smuggling cattle into Bangladesh was part of “BJP’s political game plan to get him out of the politically crucial nationwide to conduct opinion polls.

The panchayat polls will be the last major litmus test for all political parties ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“It is imperative that Anubrata Mondal remains behind bars until the polls are over next year for peaceful panchayat polls. His release will only lead to bloodshed in the national poll. The panchayat elections must be held in the presence of central forces,” he told reporters.

Mondal, the district chairman of TMC Birbhum, was arrested by the CBI in August.

“We have seen the kind of violence unleashed in TMC’s 2018 panchayat polls. There cannot be free and fair polls if it is held under the state police,” said Ghosh, who served as the BJP president of the state from 2015 to 2021.

Striking back, TMC said it only proves that Mondal was arrested as part of BJP’s strategy to keep him out of the national polls.

“The cat is now out of the bag. It is proven that the CBI arrested Mondal on behalf of the BJP to keep him out of the national polls. If that is the BJP’s strategy to win the upcoming panchayat elections, then the entire TMC leadership should be put behind bars. Without it, they (BJP) will not be able to win,” said TMC Vice-President Jaiprakash Majumdar.

TMC had undisputedly won the panchayat poll in Birbhum in 2018 and opposition parties had claimed they were not allowed to submit nominations.

In the 2013 panchayat poll, central forces had manned every polling booth in the state and TMC, then in power in West Bengal for two years, had won more than 80 percent of the seats.

The TMC won 90 percent of the state’s panchayat seats and all 20 of the state’s zilla parishes in the 2018 nationwide poll that was marred by rampant violence and malpractice in the state.

The opposition had then claimed that it was not allowed to submit nominations for several seats in the state.

Under the three-level panchayat system in the state, there are 825 seats distributed among 20 zilla parishioners, 9217 panchayat samities, and 48649 gram panchayat seats. However, the number of seats is likely to increase in all three tiers once the demarcation process is over.

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