TMC’s Abhishek warns party activists against violence during rural polls

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Kolkata: Senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Monday warned party activists against resorting to strong-arm tactics during the upcoming panchayat elections in West Bengal and said there should not be a repeat of the 2018 rural polls, during which widespread violence was reported, a party leader said.

Banerjee, who held a two-hour organisational meeting with the TMC’s district units on Monday via video-conferencing, said the party will not tolerate infighting during the panchayat polls and asked everyone to unitedly fight against the opposition.

“Abhishek Banerjee has said infighting will not be tolerated. The party has to put up a united fight in the panchayat polls. He has also warned against violence as such incidents tarnish the party’s image,” a TMC leader privy to the proceedings of the meeting said.

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“He said this year’s panchayat polls will be held in a peaceful atmosphere, not like 2018,” he said.

Referring to the widespread violence during the 2018 rural polls, which was followed by the party’s poor show in Lok Sabha polls next year, Banerjee said that anyone thinking that he can win elections through muscle power is wrong.

“Abhishek Banerjee said that like MLAs and MPs, those seeking to win in panchayat polls have to undergo grind. It won’t be tolerated if someone thinks he will win unopposed and tarnish the party’s image to secure his seat. He said we won fewer seats in 2019 Lok Sabha polls due to widespread violence in 2018 rural elections,” the party leader said.

Banerjee said the TMC will comfortably get an overwhelming mandate owing to the development work done in the last 12 years, he said, adding that strict scrutiny will be done while selecting candidates and those with a clean image will be given preference.

The TMC presently controls all the Zilla Parishads and most of the gram panchayats in the state.

Widespread violence, incidents of rigging and clashes with police were reported from various parts of the state during the 2018 rural polls.

The following year, TMC’s tally in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls came down from 34 to 22, and the BJP’s count went up from two to 18 in the state.

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( With inputs from )

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