West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference at Nabanna, in Howrah (PTI)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday hit back at the BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad who heads the four-member fact-finding team probing the incidences of violence in the state during the panchayat elections. Mamata Banerjee slammed the BJP’s move and questioned why such fact-finding teams are not formed during violence in Manipur or Assam.

“Where was the fact-finding team when Manipur was burning? Where was this team when Assam was burning due to NRC? How many commissions visited these places? Within 2 years, close to 154 teams have visited West Bengal. These are BJP provocation committees, not fact-finding committees. It is unfortunate that so many died (during WB Panchayat polls). They are victims of circumstances. I have told the police to take action” Mamata Banerjee said.

Notably, more than 30 people have lost their lives in the violence since the announcement of panchayat polls. West Bengal Chief Minister said that she is saddened by the “sporadic” incidents of violence during the panchayat polls in the state. “I am saddened at the loss of lives in sporadic incidents of violence during panchayat elections… The polls were held in 71,000 booths, but incidents of violence took place in not more than 60 booths,” she said.

“I am giving police free hand to the police to act against those behind the violence,” she told reporters at the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’.

BJP demands imposition of Article 355

Opposition BJP continued their attack against the state government over the violence in Panchayat polls. Ravi Shankar Prasad said the state unit’s demand for implementing Article 355 is “justifiable”.

“We had immense respect for Mamataji when she defeated the 34-year-old Left regime in the state. Today, I want to gently remind Mamataji about her evolution in Bengal and national politics. She was a fighter. But unfortunately, her government has crossed even the records of the Left regarding misrule, anarchy, and lawlessness in the state,” he said.

Article 355 is different from President Rule and states that it shall be the duty of the Union to protect every state in India against external aggression and internal disturbances and to issue directions to any state to ensure compliance with the Union’s laws and regulations.

(With agency inputs)

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Updated: 12 Jul 2023, 07:22 PM IST

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