The Muslim angle behind TMC’s concern about Panchayat elections

The Panchayat elections in West Bengal is supposedly to be held just days away, but surprisingly the exact dates for polls are yet to be confirmed. Reportedly the State Government and State Election Commission is keen on having the entire Panchayat election in one phase on 14th May.

What is beyond understanding is that, how would it be possible for the State Administration to securely organise the entire Panchayat election of a large state like West Bengal, that too in a single day? The state government is also focused on carrying out the entire election process under the supervision of state police. After fulfilling reservations at police stations, VIP security, police booths, and at all other emergency services, the West Bengal police force would not have the strength to post even two officials at each polling booth, if the elections across West Bengal takes place on a single day.

And from what we have seen in last one month, it would be safe to predict that political goons will exploit this opportunity to prevent voters from exercising their democratic rights, similar to how they prevented opposition candidates from filing election nominations. As a result of which Trinamool Congress (TMC) has bagged 30% of the seats without any opposition party members filing their nominations.

Many question now arise, why is the Mamata Banerjee Government showing impatience to conduct the Panchayat elections, that too before 14th May? The real reason is ably religious, as suggested many. The ruling party TMC wants the elections to finish before the month of Ramadan begins. And that is why the government wants to have elections on 14th May in a single round, a day before Ramadan commences from 15th May. The government is allegedly pressurising the election commissioner to schedule the entire election on a single day, even if it is at the cost of the democratic values.

The questionable nature of the state’s police forces has already been proved after they completely failed in controlling violence during the nomination filing process. Can it be expected that police forces would be able to ensure free and fare elections across West Bengal on a single day, when they couldn’t even ensure peaceful nomination filings?

TMC is worried that their precious 31% Muslim vote bank may not turn out in large numbers if the election is held during Ramdan. This is the reason why they are willing to do everything in their power to have polls before the month begins.

Not only the government but now few Muslim clerics and groups from the state are also building pressure on the state government. Couple of days back a delegation of some 40 odd Muslim organisation in West Bengal met with the state election commissioner and requested to conclude the elections before Ramadan. They had further threatened of going to the courts if their demands are not heard. Many believe this delegation had an indirect support from the TMC.

In what kind of a secular state, elections and other democratic processes are scheduled as per the call of religious occasions? Do the Muslims stop all their works and confine themselves during the month Ramadan? They don’t.

The Government of West Bengal is starting new trends and setting new rules on behalf of the Muslims. In West Bengal Durga Puja visarjan has to be postponed if it crosses dates with Muhharam and elections have to be concluded before Ramadan at every cost. One may wonder if West Bengal is more of an Islamic state than Saudi Arabia.

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