Thugs of the ruling TMC unleashed terror to prevent Opposition candidates from filing nominations in the panchayat elections in West Bengal. They cap-tured block development offices, sub-divisional offices, and even District Magis-trate offices in some districts to obstruct and drive away opposition candidates from filing nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections. Such pre-election rigging makes the election a farce.

Hundreds of Left and opposition candidates were injured, their identity cards and other papers snatched away. In many places, offices of the Opposition par-ties were raided by TMC men to snatch away papers and to threaten people.

Comrade Ramachandra Dome, former MP and a member of the CPI(M) Central Committee and Hiroo Let, a CPI(M) activist were severely injured in a bomb at-tack in Nalhati in Birbhum district.

In Rampurhat CPI(ML) candidate and secretary of Rampurhat Bar Association Prodyot Mukherjee was severely beaten.  The CPI(ML)’s Bankura District Sec-retary Comrade Bablu Banerjee was attacked in the Indpure Block office, Com-rade Sudhir Murmu was attacked in Hirband Block, and Hooghly district secre-tary Comrade Sajal De was attacked in Dhanekhali Block in Hooghly. Comrades Jayatu Deshmukh, a Central Committee member of the CPI(ML), district com-mittee member Baidyanath Cheena and Ranjith were attacked with bamboo sticks in the Onda Block office, Bankura while accompanying candidates to file nominations. In all these attacks, the police have refused to intervene, or, are in connivance with the TMC men, while the State Election Commission pleaded helplessness.

17 parties came together for a sit-in protest in Kolkata against the violence by TMC thugs. In Delhi, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation, All India For-ward Bloc and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) held a press confer-ence condemning the violence and demanding measures to ensure free and fair polls.

Eventually the Calcutta High Court had to intervene and order the West Bengal State Election Commission to extend the deadline for submission of nomina-tions in the panchayat polls. The deadline was then extended to April 23. But already the TMC has won uncontested in thousands of seats – having prevent-ed any Opposition candidate from even filing nominations.

By destroying democracy, the TMC is creating space for the fascist BJP in West Bengal. The BJP is projecting itself as the Opposition that can offer protection from TMC. The open and shameless violence by TMC belies all Mamata Banerjee’s attempts to project herself nationally as a champion of democracy and bulwark against the BJP.