Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were on Monday embroiled in a bitter war of words after one Sheikh Dildar Khan was shot dead at Suri in Birbhum district in a skirmish over filing of nominations for the upcoming panchayat elections, with the parties holding each other responsible for the killing.
Citing Sheikh’s father, Tahid Khan, the BJP alleged that the deceased was a party worker whose wife was to file nomination for contesting the rural polls. He was fired at while he was accompanying his wife to file nomination.
Citing the same relative within hours, Trinamool Congress chief in Birbhum district Anubrata Mondal alleged that Sheikh Dildar Khan was killed by mercenaries brought in by the BJP from the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.
West Bengal remained on the boil on Monday with political skirmishes witnessed across districts as the extended window for filing nominations closed at 3pm. At least two candidates from an ultra-Left resistance group in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district alleged that they were detained for hours by unknown miscreants when they turned up at the district magistrate’s office to file nominations.
The resistance group moved the Calcutta high court on Monday. Justice Subrata Talukdar, who had earlier stalled the electoral process by issuing an injunction, on Monday ordered the state election commission to file a report by Tuesday over the allegation that miscreants had obstructed candidates from filing nominations.
Trinamool Congress general secretary Partha Chatterjee said five workers of his party had been killed in the run-up to the panchayat elections and that the opposition parties were behind the violence witnessed during filing of nominations. Because they did not have a support base, they had stirred up unrest in a bid to hold up the elections, he alleged.
Surjya Kanta Mishra, politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, said the Trinamool Congress and the BJP had started a tug of war over the killing of an innocent man, referring to the incident in Suri. It showed that the two parties were on the same side of the “polarization" process, he added.
Meanwhile, the commission held off on announcing the revised schedule for polling for one more day. Polling was to take place in three phases between 1 May and 5 May and the votes counted on 8 May, but following the high court’s intervention, the commission will have to decide a new schedule to fulfil statutory requirements.
A key official at the commission said though the high court had asked for consultation with all stakeholders in deciding a new schedule, the commission may not have any further discussion with the opposition parties. The commission has already taken note of their demands and the new schedule is likely to be decided soon in consultation with the state administration, this person said, asking not to be identified.
The Congress and the BJP are expected to move the Calcutta high court again on Tuesday. According to a lawyer backing the Congress petition, the commission should have notified the new schedule for polling while extending the window for filing nominations. The commission could not have filed a notification separately only for filing nominations, which makes it technically invalid, this person said, asking not to be named.