Decrying an "unprecedented attack" by West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on the opposition parties' basic democratic right to file nominations for the panchayat elections, Left leaders on Friday called for firm action against all those indulging in "hooliganism and intimidation".In a joint statement, five Left leaders accused the Trinamool of having resorted to a "full-fledged assault on democracy and the rule of law".They alleged that to obstruct and drive away opposition candidates from filing nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections, the Trinamool was "capturing" block development offices (BDOs), sub-divisional offices (SDOs) and even District Magistrate offices in some districts."This is a form of pre-election rigging which makes the election a farce," said the statement signed by Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, veteran Communist Party of India leader D Raja, All India Forward Bloc's Dharmendra Kumar, Pran Nath of Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist and Kavita Krishnan of CPI-UML Liberation.They said since the filing of nominations for the three-phase polls started on April 2, the state has witnessed the "shameful spectacle of Trinamool goons stationed at the administrative offices physically assaulting and chasing away candidates of the opposition and of the Left parties in particular".
"Hundreds of Left and opposition candidates have been injured, their identity cards and other papers snatched away. In many places, offices of the parties have been raided by Trinamool men to snatch away papers and to threaten people".On April 5, former MP and CPI-M Central Committee member Ramachandra Dome was "brutally attacked" and sustained a head injury while leading a group of candidates to file nominations at Nalhati in Birbhum district."In all these attacks, police have refused to intervene, or, are in connivance with the TMC men," they said.The leaders demanded that all those wishing to file their nominations should be "allowed to do so without any fear and intimidation"."For this, the time for filing nominations should be extended wherever required".Alternative arrangements should be made for candidates to register their candidature in cases where they were prevented from filing nominations, the statement said."Firm action should be taken against all those indulging in hooliganism, intimidation and encirclement of administrative offices," it said.The leaders called upon all those who cherish democracy and democratic values to resist the attacks and assert their rights guaranteed under the Constitution.