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Post poll violence puts West Bengal on tenterhooks.

Summary: More than 20 lives have been lost in polls related violence for this years assembly elections

Archisman Dinda, Correspondent

Kolkata: Even though the Election Commission of India (EC) has been successful in bringing down the violence before and on the day of polling, fear of violence post elections have gripped rural West Bengal as age-old rivalry between political parties namely the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) continues unabated.

There have been reports from both sides, of workers being attacked for supporting or even voting for the other party. "They shot us because we are TMC supporters," said Hamir Akram, farmer in South 24 Parganas, which went to the polls on Saturday.

Similar instances of TMC workers attacking the CPM and Congress party supporters who fought this election in an alliance are being received from all over the state. EC has directed the state chief secretary and DGP to take strict action in all such cases.

"All matters pertaining to law and order are being pursued with the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal, and the commission has directed to take time-bound follow-up action on FIR lodged in these cases and legal action be taken," an officer of the poll panel said while briefing the media here.

It assured voters they will not hesitate to respond to violence of any sort, anywhere and anytime and take appropriate legal action irrespective of their political affiliation.

However, statements of the leaders of both the parties have further aggravated the situation as chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said in March the very day the polls were announced that EC and the central forces are here for few days, later we will only have to give protection.

"EC and Central forces are not going to stay in the state for the whole year. It is our government that will protect the people after that," Banerjee said during a television interview. The opposition parties had even filed a complaint to the EC that her statement is equal to a threat to voters.

Few days later in an election rally Banerjee said, "Don't be afraid of them (central forces); treat them to tea and biscuits. They are just our guests; they will go after the polls are over. And when the Trinamool Congress will come back to power, you will not see any of the opponents." - a reference to the Left and the Congress party workers.

Her nephew and parliamentarian Abhisek Banerjee went further ahead and said, "After 19 May, when the ballot boxes will be opened, the people of Bengal will witness a new Trinamool. All this while, we have been very courteous, we have given you [opponents] many opportunities ... but not anymore. In the days to come, inch-by-inch, you will be given a befitting reply. Be prepared for that."

CPM leader Mohammad Salim during his campaign rally in Birbhum just before the second phase of elections said, "We will avenge the death of all our workers who were killed in the past five years."

Political analysts termed it a veiled threat to the rural people of the state. Violence does not end with the election results. The effects of political rivalry are long and lasting and impacts ordinary voters for all days to come.

"Political affiliation dictates the life and well-being of the rural people. There have been instances, where clashes had happened over a CPM workers son or daughter marrying a TMC worker's son or daughter. So intense is the rivalry," said Sujoy Bose a political observer.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:May 1, 2016
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