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Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

3 killed in West Bengal clashes over panchayat board control

BJP alleged that one of its workers died in police firing in Purulia district amid a clash and two Trinamool Congress workers were killed in Malda in clashes over election of panchayat board members

Kolkata: At least three persons were killed in West Bengal on Monday in clashes over formation of panchayat boards as winning candidates entered into unusual alliances to grab power and remain relevant in their backyards.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has announced that it will back any party opposed to the Trinamool Congress, on Monday alleged that one of its workers—identified as Niranjan Gope—died in police firing in Purulia district amid a clash.

The district administration confirmed the killing but declined to comment on the cause of death.

When it comes to forming panchayat boards, the BJP’s aim is to bring together all forces which are opposed to the ruling party, the party’s state president Dilip Ghosh said on Monday.

Meanwhile at Manikchowk in Malda district, two Trinamool Congress workers were killed in clashes over election of board members, local leaders of the party confirmed, asking not to be identified.

Trinamool Congress leaders in Kolkata, however, denied the allegation of an internal feud at Manikchowk, and blamed the Congress for the violence.

Also in Malda, the Congress has asked its winning candidates to back the Trinamool Congress to contain the BJP. “The decision is in line with directions from our party high command," said the Congress’s Mausam Benazir Noor, a member of the Lok Sabha from Malda.

There is nothing wrong in the Malda district leadership agreeing to back the Trinamool Congress, said the Congress’s state president Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, adding that it does not, however, mean the two parties will fight elections in alliance in future.

“The state president had grudgingly agreed to the proposal," said a close aide, asking not to be named.

Congress leaders in Malda are struggling to remain relevant, and hence they are getting into such alliances, said Rahul Sinha, the BJP’s national secretary.

His party said that it was able to elect the chief of 12 gram panchayats in Purulia district despite violence and intimidation by the Trinamool Congress. The BJP’s district president for Purulia, Bidyasagar Chakraborty, said the situation was the worst in the Raghunathpur block, where winning candidates were being intimidated into joining the Trinamool Congress.

The BJP, Congress and the Left parties have again come together to malign the Trinamool Congress and the image of the state, alleged Partha Chatterjee, a minister in West Bengal and the Trinamool Congress’s secretary general. “They have lost their minds," he said.

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