The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday said that it had asked for a report from the West Bengal government about alleged incidents of “post-election violence against opposition political workers in the state”.
On Sunday, the Trinamool Congress emerged victorious in the longest-ever Assembly elections, held in eight phases amid the massive rise in Covid-19 infections in the country. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress won 213 seats – way beyond the majority mark of 148. The Bharatiya Janata Party managed to secure only 77 constituencies.
“MHA has asked West Bengal government for a report on the post-election violence targeting opposition political workers in the state,” the ministry tweeted.
As results poured in on Sunday, there were reports of violence in the state. The houses and vehicles of some BJP candidates were allegedly attacked. A BJP office at Arambagh town in Hooghly district was allegedly set on fire. The saffron party’s leader Suvendu Adhikari’s vehicle was also allegedly attacked. TMC leaders, however, said they had nothing to do with the violence.
Earlier on Monday, Banerjee asked Trinamool Congress supporters to maintain peace and not indulge in any violence. “We know BJP and central forces have tortured us a lot but we have to maintain peace,” she said. “At present, we have [to] fight Covid-19.”
About the reports of violence, Banerjee accused the BJP of using photographs of old riot incidents, calling it the saffron party’s habit to do so. She also asked why the saffron party was employing such tactics.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar summoned the West Bengal Director General of Police P Narajnayan and Kolkata Commissioner Soumen Mitra about the reported violence in the state and asked them to take steps to control the law and order situation. He also urged residents to remain calm.
Polls in two seats deferred amid Covid-19 surge
Voting in two constituencies of West Bengal where the candidates died due to Covid-19 was deferred indefinitely because of the surge in Covid-19 infections, the Election Commission said, reported NDTV.
“The Commission, after taking all material facts and inputs of CEO West Bengal and CEO Odisha in consideration and taking note of lockdown under Disaster Management Act, 2005, as issued by NDMA/SDMA, has decided to defer the scheduled poll and extend the period of elections in 110-Pipli AC of Odisha and 58-Jangipur and 56-Samserganj assembly constituencies of West Bengal,” the statement read.
The elections were necessitated after two candidates contesting in the state polls died of Covid-19. On April 16, Revolutionary Socialist Party politician Pradip Kumar died four days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kumar was running from Jangipur Assembly seat in Murshidabad district. On April 15, Rezaul Haque, the Congress candidate from the Samserganj constituency in Murshidabad district, died due to the disease.
Elections amid pandemic
While the country battled with a record surge in Covid-19 cases for days during the second wave and hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen, politicians were holding election rallies attended by thousands with little evidence of masks or physical distancing.
In West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah held gigantic rallies until last week, when the Election Commission finally banned all roadshows and limited gatherings to 500 people amid the worsening situation.
After the fourth phase of voting in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had announced that it will not organise big election rallies for the remaining phases. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi cancelled his rallies in West Bengal and Banerjee also decided to hold smaller election meetings. Shah, however, said that it was not right to link the surge in coronavirus cases in India to elections.