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Dhaka Tribune

Violence mars West Bengal panchayat polls, 14 killed

Protesters demanded the deployment of central forces for enhanced security

Update : 08 Jul 2023, 10:51 PM

At least 14 people have lost their lives in election-related violence during the ongoing three-tier panchayat polls in the Indian state of West Bengal.

The state, known for its rural areas, witnessed clashes and incidents of ballot box destruction as voting commenced, Indian local media reported. 

The violent clashes also resulted in several injuries. 

The polling encompasses 73,887 seats and involves approximately 56.7 million voters, who will determine the fate of around 200,000 candidates. A 66.2% voter turnout had been recorded.

State Governor CV Ananda Bose visited various areas in the North 24 Parganas district to meet those injured in the violence and listen to their complaints. 

Incidents of ballot box destruction and intimidation of voters were also reported, including in Cooch Behar and South 24 Parganas districts. 

Protesters demanded the deployment of central forces for enhanced security.

With 600 companies of central forces and around 70,000 state police deployed for the elections, concerns were raised about the reported incidents of violence. 

The election is important for political parties as it allows them to evaluate their organizational strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

The polls are likely to see a fierce tussle for control of local administrations between the ruling Trinamool Congress, Indian Secular Front, and the Bharatiya Janata Party and will be a litmus test for both parties ahead of next year's Lok Sabha elections, reports Times of India.

In 2018, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) won uncontested 34% of the seats in panchayat elections, which also saw various instances of violence.

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